King’s Birthday Honours: Harrow East MP Bob Blackman gets CBE

Mr Blackman was elected as a Conservative MP in 2010, following 24 years as a councillor, including stints as Brent Council leader from 1990-96 and as the Brent and Harrow member of the London Assembly between 2004-2008.

The Commander of the Order of the British Empire award ranks higher than an OBE and MBE, and is one rank below knighthood.

Mr Blackman said he is “really pleased” with the honour, a “very good celebration of rather a long time in politics – and still more to come.”

After election as secretary of the 1922 Committee in 2015 – the parliamentary group of Conservative backbench MPs – Mr Blackman later joined the eurosceptic European Research Group, supporting the Brexit campaign. 

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In 2016, he tabled the Homelessness Reduction Bill with homelessness charity Crisis – his first Private Member’s Bill. Mr Blackman describes it as his “proudest” moment in politics. 

He said: “Prior to the bill, local authorities had no duty whatsoever to help single people that were threatened with being homeless or were actually homeless.”

Authorities were only obliged to help “families and children under the age of 16, those with addictions and medical conditions, either physical or mental.”

The bill meant that everyone was entitled to help from their local authority, whether already homeless or facing homelessness.

“I get the most satisfaction from helping and assisting honourable people in my constituency, who basically have been banging their head against a brick wall.

“By assisting them, they can achieve what they want to achieve, and that to me has always been the most important element of being a politician.”

Mr Blackman is also the chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Ending Homelessness.

It’s a double celebration for Mr Blackman this weekend, after his second Private Member’s Bill passed its third House of Lords reading today (June 16). 

The bill on “supported housing exempt accommodation” is designed to “help vulnerable people with mental or physical health problems, leaving prison, or leaving the armed forces, that are being exploited by rogue landlords who don’t provide any care and just charge any rent they like.”

An “avid anti-smoker,” Mr Blackman was elected in 2015 as chair of the All Party Political Group on Smoking and Health.

He criticised the “scant action” from the Department of Health and Social Care, following a review published last year on achieving a smoke-free UK by 2030.

“We’re going to be pressing the government to do more because otherwise we’re going to miss the target. More people will die of mouth, throat or lung cancer as a result of being addicted to tobacco.”

During Mr Blackman’s time as Brent Council leader, planning permission was granted to build Neasden Temple and central government funding was secured for upgrades in the Park Royal area.

The council also campaigned to retain Wembley Stadium as the national football stadium and began its redevelopment in 2003.

But he has faced controversy during his time as an MP.

Mr Blackman opposed the Same-Sex Marriage bill, describing it in 2012 as wrong “on principle”, and in 2019 was one of 21 MPs to vote against LGBT-inclusive sex and relationship education in English schools.

He has also attracted criticism from the Muslim Council of Britain, following allegations of endorsing Islamophobia. 

In 2018, Vice revealed he was a member of several anti-Muslim Facebook groups, which Mr Blackman then said he was unaware he had been added to, removed himself from and condemned their views.

Earlier that year, he apologised for “upset caused” by a news article he shared.

When asked how long he would like to remain an MP, he said: “I will always say the same thing to anyone: that you take each election as it comes, because you don’t know what your state of health will be. 

“You don’t know whether you want to move on to do something else. So I think you commit for one election at a time, I don’t think it’s right to set a target.”

But he hopes to stay on until 2024.

“It’s up to the electorate. I’ve been re-adopted for the next general election.”

But this weekend it is a “bite to eat” with his wife, Nicola, to celebrate his new title.

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