Andrew Stephenson

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Andrew Stephenson

Official portrait of Andrew Stephenson MP crop 2.jpg
Stephenson in 2020
Minister of State for High Speed 2
Assumed office
13 February 2020
Prime MinisterBoris Johnson
Preceded byGeorge Freeman
Minister of State for Africa and International Development
In office
25 July 2019 – 13 February 2020
Prime MinisterBoris Johnson
Preceded byHarriett Baldwin
Succeeded byJames Duddridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Industry
In office
4 April 2019 – 25 July 2019
Prime MinisterTheresa May
Preceded byRichard Harrington
Succeeded byNadhim Zahawi
Vice-Chamberlain of the Household
In office
26 July 2018 – 4 April 2019
Prime MinisterTheresa May
Preceded byMark Spencer
Succeeded byCraig Whittaker
Lord Commissioner of the Treasury
In office
9 January 2018 – 26 July 2018
Prime MinisterTheresa May
Preceded byDavid Evennett
Succeeded byMike Freer
Member of Parliament
for Pendle
Assumed office
6 May 2010
Preceded byGordon Prentice
Majority6,186 (14.0%)
Personal details
Born (1981-02-17) 17 February 1981 (age 39)
Manchester, England
Political partyConservative
ResidenceColne, Lancashire
Alma materRoyal Holloway, University of London
OccupationPolitician
WebsiteOfficial website

Andrew George Stephenson (born 17 February 1981) is a British Conservative Party politician, who has been Member of Parliament (MP) for Pendle in Lancashire since 2010. Stephenson retained the seat in the 2015, 2017, and 2019 United Kingdom general elections, with a higher number of votes and share of the vote each time.

From July 2016 to June 2017 Stephenson was Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.  Since June 2017 Stephenson has held six different Ministerial roles and has served as Minister of State for Transport since February 2020.

Early life and career[edit]

Stephenson was born on 17 February 1981 in Manchester, England to Malcolm and Ann Stephenson.[1][2] His father and grandfather worked for British Rail, in the North East of England, before the family moved to the North West in the 1960s.[3]

He attended Poynton High School, a state comprehensive school. Stephenson was the first in his family to go to university and studied a degree in Management Studies at Royal Holloway, University of London, graduating in 2002.[4][5]

Whilst at school Stephenson had wanted to become a chef and took part in the South Trafford College Super Chef Competition, was awarded a Bronze Medal in the Northern Salon Culinary Competition and was in the North West Regional Finals of BBC Junior Masterchef.

He joined the Conservative Party at the age of 16.[6] Stephenson served two terms on the National Executive of Conservative Future, and was the organisation's national deputy chairman from 2001 to 2002. He was also the chairman of the Royal Holloway's Conservative Future society, from 1999 to 2001.[7] Stephenson climbed the Great Wall of China in September 2008, having raised more than £5,000 for charity.[8]

After graduating from university, Stephenson worked as an insurance broker and later partner at Stephenson & Threader.[4][9]

Stephenson was a councillor for Macclesfield Borough Council from 2003 to 2007.[4] At the age of 25, he became the chair of the Tatton Conservative association, the youngest person to lead a local Conservative association.[10] He was selected as the prospective parliamentary candidate (PPC) for Pendle in September 2006.[4]

House of Commons[edit]

He was elected in the general election of 2010, with a majority of 3,585 (8.0%) votes. The seat had been previously held by Labour MP Gordon Prentice since 1992.[11][12] Stephenson delivered his maiden speech in a debate on ‘Building a High-Skilled Economy’ on 17 June 2010.[13]

On the 12th October 2010, less than six months after being first elected Stephenson led a debate in the House of Commons which focused on the murder of three Pendle residents - Mohammed Yousaf, Pervez Yousaf and Tania Yousaf - who were killed in Pakistan on 20 May 2010.  Over 100 Pendle residents travelled to London to watch the debate from the public gallery. [14][15] Stephenson maintains an interest in the case often raising it with the British and Pakistani Authorities. [16] Stephenson served as the Chairman of the Pakistan All Party Parliamentary Group 2010-2015.[17]

On 13th October 2010, Stephenson was one of 37 Conservative MP’s to rebel on a motion to approve Britain’s EU budget contribution, voting for an amendment which read “is concerned at the above-inflation increase being made to Britain's EU budget contribution; believes that, at a time when the Government is poised to make reductions in public spending elsewhere, it is wrong to increase that contribution; and calls on the Government to reduce Britain's EU budget contribution." [18] Stephenson campaigned with Vote Leave and voted for the United Kingdom (UK) to leave the European Union (EU) in the 2016 UK EU membership referendum.[19] 63% of Pendle residents voted to leave the EU.[20]

The first piece of legislation that Stephenson proposed was a Bail (Amendment) Bill on 28th June 2011.  The Private Members Bill sought to create a right of appeal against Crown Court bail decisions and followed the murder of his constituent, Jane Clough, by her partner who was out on bail.  Working with Jane’s parents, John and Penny Clough MBE, Stephenson was successful in getting the law changed and this additional safeguard was introduced in 2012. [21][22][23]

As a former small businessman, Stephenson has put jobs and employment at the top of his agenda. He holds an annual Job Fair at Colne Muni and campaigned for a National Living Wage, which was introduced in 2016. He has long championed the regeneration of Brierfield Mills,[24] helping secure millions of pounds to bring the site into public ownership and enable its £32 million transformation into ‘Northlight’.[25] In 2019 Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Theresa May visited Pendle to open the £4.5 million ‘Leisure Box’ which is part of the redevelopment. [26]

Stephenson has also campaigned for more transport investment in Pendle.  In April 2017 he led a debate on re-opening the Colne to Skipton Railway line[27] and in 2018 secured a government feasibility study into this “missing link”.[28]  Stephenson has also been vocal about traffic congestion in Colne and in 2019 secured another study into looking at possible solutions. [29] Stephenson successfully campaigned for action to be taken to tackle flooding on the M65, work that was undertaken in early 2020 [30] In September 2020, a £1 million scheme to improve congestion through Colne, funded by the Department for Transport’s national productivity infrastructure fund got underway [31]

Stephenson was involved in setting up an All Party Parliamentary Group for Water Safety and Drowning Prevention in September 2014, following the accidental death of one of his constituents.[32]

Stephenson has campaigned for more funding for local NHS services. In 2014 a new Health Centre opened in Colne[33] and a new Accident and Emergency Department at Airedale Hospital.[34] Meanwhile, more than £60 million of improvements have been made at Burnley General Teaching Hospital, including the £15million Phase 8 development which opened in 2019.[35][36] Stephenson, has spoken about how his own health problems, including a gangrenous appendix in 2014 [37] and having his gallbladder removed in 2016 [38] led to him becoming a NHS volunteer with the ambulance service. Since 2014, Stephenson has volunteered as a Community First Responder with the North West Ambulance Service, providing lifesaving care before an ambulance arrives. [39] In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Stephenson spent over 400 hours volunteering with the Ambulance Service.[40][41]

Stephenson has secured the visits of number of high-profile politicians to Pendle during his time as the MP.  As Prime Minister David Cameron visited Hope Technology in Barnoldswick in 2013,[42] ACDC in Barrowford in 2015,[43] and Silentnight in Barnoldswick for a Q&A with the workforce in 2016.[44] He also had Mayor of London Boris Johnson pulling pints in the Alma Inn in Colne in 2015.[45]

In 2019, he took part in a Charity Sleep out on top of Pendle Hill to raise money for a local homelessness charity. [46]

Alongside his constituency work, he served as a Vive Chairman of the Conservative Party 2010-2013 [47] He served as Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS), to Robert Halfon Minister without Portfolio and deputy chairman of the Conservative Party in 2015.[48] Stephenson later also became the PPS to Minister of State for Security John Hayes, and Minister of State for Policing Mike Penning. In July 2016, he became the PPS to Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.[49]

Stephenson backed Boris in the 2019 Conservative Party leadership election[50] and was his North West Regional MP Campaign Co-ordinator.[51]

Government Whips Office[edit]

After the general election of 2017, Stephenson was selected as an Assistant Government Whip by Prime Minister Theresa May. Stephenson was promoted to Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury in the January 2018 cabinet reshuffle and then became Vice-Chamberlain of the Household in July 2018.[52]

One of the duties of the Vice-Chamberlain of the Household, a title given to a Senior Government Whip, is to write daily reports to HM the Queen on events in Westminster.[53] Stephenson compiled the daily reports from July 2018 to April 2019, during one of the most turbulent times in British politics.  He received his Wand of Office from HM the Queen during an audience at Buckingham Palace on 1st November 2018[54] and relinquished it on 15th May 2019.[55]

Between January 2018 and April 2019, Stephenson was the Government Pairing Whip, responsible for approving or refusing the absence requests of all Conservative MPs and negotiating ‘pairs’ with opposition Parties.[56]

Minister for Business and Industry[edit]

From April to July 2019, he was the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Minister for Business and Industry) in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.[57] In this role he was responsible for sectors including aerospace, automotive, materials (including steel), professional and business services, nuclear, infrastructure and construction.

Alongside the Secretary of State, he led the government response to British Steel entering administration in May 2019.[58] In May 2019 he launched the West Midlands Local Industrial Strategy, the first local industrial strategy to be launched.[59] He was also responsible for Sector Deals and launched the Tourism Sector Deal in June 2019.[60]

Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office[edit]

In July 2019, after Boris Johnson became prime minister, he was appointed as Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for International Development.[61]

He served as Minister for Africa, responsible for 48 countries and UK Aid policy in the region.[62] His first visits to the region were to South Sudan[63] and Uganda[64] and he helped organise and host the Africa Investment Summit in London in January 2020, the largest event of its type in the UK.[65] Stephenson was also responsible for UK consular affairs policy globally, which included dealing with issues like the major repatriation effort following the collapse of Thomas Cook in September 2019.

Minister of State in the Department of Transport[edit]

In February 2020, Stephenson was appointed Minister of State at the Department for Transport, responsible for HS2, the Transpennine Route Upgrade and Northern Powerhouse Rail projects. His appointment came after Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he would appoint a Minister to "restore discipline" to HS2. [66] In his first speech on HS2, which he made in Manchester, Stephenson set out how he would get the project back on track, with monthly cross-government meetings like those that were put in place for the Olympics. [67] [68] His speech was welcomed by many supporters of the project including the Yorkshire Post who said “Stephenson’s rocket will fire up HS2 at last” [69]

In March, Stephenson revived the HS2 Phase 2a Bill (West Midlands – Crewe) in the House of Commons, so it could continue its Parliamentary Stages. [70] Royal Assent on the Bill is expected in early 2021. In April, a revised Full Business Case for HS2 Phase One (Birmingham to London) was published [71] and the main contractors were given ‘Notice to proceed’ with construction. [72] In July, the government announced £589 million to kickstart the Transpennine Route Upgrade. [73] In October, a public consultation was launched on the final design of the HS2 Phase 2b (Crewe to Manchester) to inform the development of the next HS2 Bill, before it’s introduced in parliament in early 2022. [74]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Gordon Prentice
Member of Parliament for Pendle
2010–present
Incumbent