Watford’s new Conservative MP is an instantly recognisable figure. But just who is Richard Harrington? What is his background, and what are his priorities? He took time out of a three day Parliamentary induction to speak with Neil Skinner.

Richard Harrington, the 52-year-old son of a Leeds businessman, was first acquainted with Watford in the late 1970s, when, as a fresh-faced young man, he joined the John Lewis graduate trainee scheme and began work at the Trewins department store in Queen’s Road.

“I never dreamed I would end up being the MP,” he joked on Tuesday.

After a successful few years with the company, which included a stint as personal assistant to the MD of Waitrose, Mr Harrington joined with two friends to buy, renovate and sell a flat in Primrose Hill, London.

In the years since Mr Harrington, who previously had won a scholarship to study law at Oxford University, has built up an impressive business portfolio – a portfolio that has made him a wealthy man. So why did he decide to enter public life?

“If you do well in life you must do something to help other people,” he explained. “That can be through charity work or public office. I am very passionate about that.

“Everybody who is determined and believes in a strong work ethic can succeed. But when you have succeeded you can’t be dominated by greed. I hope more people will follow that example.”

This success, says the former Leeds Grammar School pupil, was the result not of privilege but of hard work.

“I used to help out in my dad’s clothes shop from the age of 11 because it was expected of me. I learned a lot from that about how a small business worked and I enjoyed helping him.

“But I never inherited a penny and, frankly, I’m never likely to. What my dad gave me was a very strong work ethic.”

So what are the chances of this work ethic earning him a cabinet or ministerial appointment in the coming years?

“That is definitely a decision for other people to make. First I must establish myself and do what I was sent here [to Parliament] to do: to represent the people of Watford. “That is why I intend to have my staff in Watford and not in Westminster – so they are more open to the case work I was elected to take on.”

At the very top of his to-do list, Mr Harrington added, was work on the new £300 million hospital project, along with help for small businesses structural development.

Asked how he could improve on the legacy of former Labour MP Claire Ward, Mr Harrington added: “I think that Claire did her very best for the town but I believe I have more experience behind me. "She was 24 when she took over. I have been around for a lot longer and know my way around the people that matter – to tackle the issues that matter to the people.

“I look forward to dealing with those issues with energy and enthusiasm.”

Mr Harrington, the former chairman of the Conservative Friends of Israel, has worked with the Variety Club children’s society and is a trustee of several children’s charities.