Jenny Willott

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Right Honourable
Jenny Willott
MP
Jenny Willott, September 2009 1 cropped.jpg
Willott during the 2009 Liberal Democrat Party Conference
Assistant Government Whip
In office
3 February 2012 – 4 November 2014
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Norman Lamb
Member of Parliament
for Cardiff Central
Incumbent
Assumed office
5 May 2005
Preceded by Jon Owen Jones
Majority 4,576 (12.7%)
Personal details
Born (1974-05-29) 29 May 1974 (age 40)
Wimbledon, Merton, London, England
Nationality British
Political party Welsh Liberal Democrats
Spouse(s) Andrew Poole
Children 1 son
Alma mater Durham University
London School of Economics
Website www.jennywillott.org.uk

Jennifer Nancy Willott (born 29 May 1974) is a British politician and the Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament for Cardiff Central since the 2005 general election. Willott became a junior minister in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and Government Equalities Office in December 2013, temporarily standing in for Jo Swinson while she was on maternity leave. She is the first woman and first Liberal Democrat to represent her seat. She was a councillor in the London Borough of Merton from 1998 to 2000.

Education[edit]

Willott was born in Wimbledon, London.[1] She was educated at the independent Uppingham School, which currently (2014-15) charges £10,950 a term in school fees for boarders.[2] She then studied Classics at St Mary's College, Durham University.[1] and attended the London School of Economics, obtaining an MSc in Development Studies.

Political career[edit]

For a while after university she was chief researcher for Lembit Opik.

Willott's 2005 campaign was closely linked to specific local and national issues and her support was widespread across all wards.

In her maiden speech, Willott pledged to "make Cardiff proud" and celebrated the cultural diversity of her constituency. She declared her priorities in parliament would be local health services, tuition and top-up fees, and council tax.[3]

She supported Sir Menzies Campbell in the leadership election in 2006, and was later appointed Shadow Minister for Youth Affairs, Whip, and Deputy Chief Whip.

In 2008 she was appointed as Shadow Minister for Justice and later Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. In January 2009 she was appointed Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.[4]

In December 2010 she resigned her post as parliamentary aide to Chris Huhne shortly before a vote to increase tuition fees as recommended by the Browne Review, in order to keep her pledge to constituents that she would vote against any increase in fees.[5] Her political opponents accused her of being granted permission to vote against the measure by Nick Clegg, as her constituency contains a high number of students. This claim is said to be backed up by her swift promotion to government after her rebellion.

In a mini-reshuffle of the Coalition Government on 3 February 2012 caused by Huhne's prosecution and subsequent resignation, Willott was appointed an Assistant Whip.[6]

In May 2014 Willott complained about the hostile atmosphere of prime minister's questions and the low number of female ministers. She called for all-female shortlists for MPs, something which is not party policy.[7]

Personal life[edit]

She is married to Andrew Poole and they have two children;[8] the birth of her second child in February 2013 notably necessitated her absence from a vote on the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Bill.[9]

Controversy[edit]

Willott was subject to criticism from rival political parties and the media in the wake of the expenses scandal, as it emerged she claimed more in expenses than any Welsh MP. She added over £57,000 to her salary in a year, including claims for a new flat and a four poster bed. [10]

Willott also came under sustained pressure from political opponents over her support for the bedroom tax. A protest outside her Cardiff office about the issue led to her not going in for the day.[11]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Jon Owen Jones
Member of Parliament for Cardiff Central
2005–present
Incumbent