Matthew Parris

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Presenter & Columnist

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The former Tory MP and parliamentary sketchwriter has also taken on numerous challenges. He’s led an expedition across the Sahara, shaved off his hair to see how it felt to be bald, and smoked a lot of skunk for Channel 4. With Labour out on the left, Matthew wonders if the Tories should split into three.


Matthew Parris became best known as the Parliamentary sketchwriter for The Times. He has been named Columnist of the Year and Political Journalist of the Year at the British Press Awards. He continues to write on politics with insight, authority and acerbic wit for The Times, Telegraph, and The Spectator.

Born in Johannesburg, Matthew was educated at Cambridge before going on to study International Relations at Yale. Returning to the UK, two years at the Foreign Office were followed by a spell at the Conservative Research Department. He then served as a member of staff in Margaret Thatcher’s office until the 1979 General Election, when he was elected MP for West Derbyshire. Matthew gave up his seat in 1986 and went on to host LWT’s political interview programme, Weekend World.

Since then Matthew’s Times column has become required reading around Westminster combining a rebellious streak with thoughtful, informed opinion. Never afraid to be outspoken he tackles the hypocrisy, delusions and motives of the Parliamentary elite. As well as writing, Matthew has become a regular on radio, fronting Radio 4’s interview-cum-biography programme Great Lives, and featuring in and presenting a range of factual shows.

Aside from politics, Matthew’s other great love is travel. He has led expeditions to Mount Kilimanjaro, Peru and Bolivia as well as to Zaire and the Sahara and has written books about his experiences. A keen runner, he has also competed several times in the London Marathon, achieving a personal best of 2 hours 32 minutes (a time unbeaten by any sitting MP).

Matthew has published several compilations of his pieces from The Times and has also edited Scorn, a book of quotations about curses, jibes and invective. The author of over a dozen titles, he has covered the secrets of the diplomatic service, political indiscretions and language in books including Great Parliamentary Scandals, Parting Shots and Read my Lips, a treasury of things politicians wish they had not said.

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