Chuka Harrison Umunna was born on 17th October 1978 in Lambeth, London. He is a British-Nigerian, a Liberal Democrat politician and former Member of Parliament (MP) for Stratham from 2010 to 2019, originally elected as the Labour Party candidate. As a former member of the Opposition Shadow Cabinet, he was Shadow Business Secretary from 2011 to 2015. He was a member of the Labour Party until February 2019, when he resigned to form The Independent Group (later renamed Change UK) along with six other MPs. He left Change UK in June 2019 and, after a short time as an independent MP, joined the Liberal Democrats. He is currently standing as the Liberal Democrats’ candidate in the Cities of London and Westminster constituency in the 2019 general election.
Umunna was born in London, England. His father, Bennett Umunna hails from Onitsha, Anambra state Nigeria, and owner of an import-export business venture. Bennett died in a road accident in Nigeria in 1992. Chuka’s mother, Patricia Milmo, a solicitor, is of English-Irish background. Chuka’s maternal grandparents were Joan Frances (Morley) and Sir Helenus Milmo QC, a High Court judge.
He is married to Alice Sullivan, an employment lawyer. The couple have a daughter, born in 2017. Umunna is also a Crystal Palace F.C. fan. Umunna was educated at St Dunstan’s College in Catford in the London Borough of Lewisham, before studying at the University of Manchester and Nottingham Trent University. He worked as a solicitor in the City of London, first for Herbert Smith and then Rochman Landau, while writing articles for the Compass think tank. He joined Labour Party when the party styled itself as “New Labour” and, when in parliament, he aligned with the party’s “Blue Labour” trend, which rejects neoliberal economics. Whilst a member of the Labour Friends of Israel group, he condemned Israel’s military courts for their treatment of Palestinian children accused of combat offences.
Umunna was selected as Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Stratham in 2008, and was elected
MP in the 2010 general election. A supporter of the unsuccessful campaign to retain UK membership of the European Union in the 2016 referendum, he then campaigned for a referendum on the final deal with the EU.
In 2011, Umunna joined the Shadow Cabinet under Ed Miliband’s Labour leadership. In Parliament, he sat on the Treasury Select Committee. He was re-elected in the 2015 and 2017 general elections. After Miliband’s resignation, Jeremy Corbyn was elected Labour leader in 2015;
Umunna was critical of the party leadership and resigned from the Shadow Cabinet to sit as a backbencher.
Umunna resigned from the Labour Party and joined The Independent Group on 18 February 2019. He was announced as TIG group spokesperson, later styled as Change UK. He later left Change UK to sit as an independent MP in June 2019 following “disappointing” results in the 2019 European Elections, in which the party had “failed to get a single MEP elected”. One week later, Umunna joined the Liberal Democrats and was appointed the Liberal Democrats’ Treasury and Business Spokesman by Liberal Democrat Leader Sir Vince Cable. Umunna said that he had “massively underestimated just how difficult” it was to set up a new party, and that under Britain’s first past the post voting system, “there isn’t room for more than one centre ground” political party.
In September 2019, in his first major speech to the Liberal Democrat Federal Conference, Umunna argued that Britain is unable to exert its moral authority against authoritarian leaders in the world, at a time that Prime Minister Boris Johnson continues to threaten to break the law over Brexit.