A solicitor by profession, Chuka studied English Law and French Law at the University of Manchester. Thereafter he practiced as a corporate employment lawyer for an international City law firm and then in the West End from 2002 until 2010. He did contentious and non-contentious client work, mostly for businesses, large and small.
Following his election to Parliament as the Member of Parliament for Streatham in May 2010, Chuka served first as Shadow Minister for Small Business in HM Official Opposition and then as Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills for four years from October 2011.
As Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills he was a leading advocate in parliament of the responsible capitalism agenda and how businesses can create shared value in society. He led the successful campaign against the takeover of AstraZenca by Pfizer to protect the UK’s science base. He instigated the establishment of the Small Business Saturday campaign in the UK in 2013, which is now into its sixth year. He also led trade delegations for business organisations to West Africa and China whilst in post.
He left the Shadow Cabinet in September 2015 and subsequently resigned the Labour whip to sit as an independent MP in February 2019 due to policy differences with the Labour leadership over Brexit, the economy, national security, and because of anti-Jewish racism in the party.
In June 2019 Chuka joined the Liberal Democrats and was immediately appointed to become the party’s Treasury and Business spokesperson, before being appointed in August 2019 as the party’s Shadow Foreign Secretary, also leading on international trade. In this role he was an advocate of the liberal, rules-based international order established in the wake of the Second World War.
He stood as the Liberal Democrats’ candidate in the Cities of London and Westminster in the 2019 General Election, in which he was endorsed by The Economist and The Observer newspapers and by people from across the political spectrum including the former Conservative Deputy Prime Minister, Lord Michael Heseltine. Though he was not elected, whilst the Conservative MP lost 6.7% of their vote in the seat, he almost trebled the Lib Dem share of the vote increasing it by 19.6%.
Chuka served on the House of Commons Treasury (2010-11) and Home Affairs (2015-17) Select Committees, and chaired the All-Party Parliamentary Groups on EU Relations (2017-19) and on Social Integration (2016-19) during his time in the House of Commons. He was appointed by the Home Secretary to the government’s Serious Violence Taskforce in 2018.
He was a leading figure in the Britain Stronger in Europe campaign during the 2016 EU referendum, and subsequently co-founded the People’s Vote campaign. He has sat on the advisory boards of a number of UK thinktanks including the Progressive Centre UK, the Social Market Foundation and the Centre for Progressive Capitalism. He is a member of the European Council on Foreign Relations.
He writes a weekly column for The Independent digital newspaper and has written for most of the major UK newspapers.
He is a patron of Crystal Palace Football Club’s Palace for Life Foundation and is a Performing Rights Society Foundation Ambassador.