Craig Mackinlay is the son of Colin and Margaret - both natives of Kent. Colin, Craig’s father, ran a small chain of independent greengrocers in Kent before starting a fresh produce import company supplying most major supermarkets.
Craig was born in Chatham and was educated at Rainham Mark Grammar School before reading Zoology and Comparative Physiology at Birmingham University. After graduating, Craig joined a national firm of Chartered Accountants, qualifying as a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales. He later went on to also qualify as a member of the Chartered Institute of Taxation, becoming one of just 1,500 qualified ‘joint-hatters’ – the only MP with such qualification. Among this, Craig also possesses advanced qualifications in probate work. He remains in practice as a partner in a Kent firm of Chartered Accountants.
Craig’s political career began in the early 1990s when, alongside LSE economist Dr Alan Sked, he founded the Anti-Federalist Party – which went onto become the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP). Craig briefly led the party in 1999 and contested elections for the party at a European and Parliamentary level for a number of years. Concerned about the direction the Party was taking, Craig left in 2005 and joined the Conservative Party. In 2007 he was elected as a Councillor for River Ward in Chatham on Medway Council, a unitary authority, and then re-elected in 2011. In 2012 Craig contested the Kent Police and Crime Commissioner Elections as the Conservative candidate.
Craig has also undertaken a series of campaigns - one such campaign to see public conveniences exempted from rates was successful when the Chancellor devolved greater powers to Councils in the 2016 budget, but was unfortunately not implemented due to the unexpected General Election in 2017. Craig has also campaigned actively on issues of aviation, energy, pharmacies and animal welfare. At the European Referendum Craig was a Founding Member of Conservatives for Britain, becoming a leading Vote Leave campaigner and pushing his constituents struggles with the EU over live-animal exports. Craig is also serving as: the Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Cannabis: Harmful Effects on Developing Brains; the Chairman of the APPG for Civic Societies; and the Chairman of the APPG for Listed Properties.
During this Parliament, Craig has been outspoken on the Brexit process in his position as a member of the Exiting the EU Select Committee. He has held a debate on the human and financial costs of drugs and is continuing work on this issue. Taxation will remain a focus of interest, with Craig using his experience and working with professional institutions to achieve sensible tax simplification. Craig is also pushing forward with the fight to ban live animal exports for slaughter and to secure increased rights for Ramsgate's <10m fishing fleet post-Brexit.
In addition to his professional career, Craig has an impressive record of voluntary and civic service. He has served as a magistrate on the North Kent Bench for over 10 years and as a Chairman for 4 of those years. Craig has also been a regular volunteer for the charity Tax Help for Older People (TOP), using the skills he gained as an accountant to help pensioners and the newly bereaved. In addition, Craig has served as a trustee for several well-known charities including the Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust.
In the last Parliament as MP for South Thanet, Craig was actively engaged in shaping policy in Westminster. He was a member of: the Exiting the EU Select Committee, the Work and Pensions Select Committee and the European Scrutiny Select Committee. On the Exiting the EU Committee, Craig has questioned various academics, stakeholders and the Government itself in order to evaluate appropriate negotiating strategies with the EU during the exit process. On the Work and Pensions Committee Craig has taken an active interest in pensions policy, acting as the Conservative lead on the committee’s auto-enrolment inquiry and also focusing on master trusts. In addition, he was selected from the Committee to serve on the Joint BHS inquiry. He took a leading part in questioning both Sir Phillip Green and Dominic Chappell about the sale of the company in 2015. On the European Scrutiny Committee Craig has been a fierce critic of excessive European bureaucracy, frequently siding with the Eurosceptic wing on the Committee.
Craig is married to Kati, a community Pharmacist who works across Kent but mainly in Ramsgate and Broadstairs. Craig enjoys sailing and has covered over 35,000 sea miles, and is a member of The Royal Temple Yacht Club and the House of Commons Yacht Club. Craig & Kati have a young chocolate Labrador called Libby who is a regular contestant in the annual Parliamentary Dog of the Year competition. Craig and Kati travel as widely as time allows, with Kati’s native Hungary a regular destination where Craig has established positive links within the Hungarian government.