Caroline Ansell

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Caroline Ansell
Member of Parliament
for Eastbourne
In office
7 May 2015 – 8 June 2017
Preceded byStephen Lloyd
Succeeded byStephen Lloyd
Personal details
Born (1971-01-12) 12 January 1971 (age 48)
Eastbourne, England, UK
Political partyConservative
Alma materUniversity of Sussex
University of London
École supérieure de commerce
WebsiteOfficial website

Caroline Julie Porte Ansell[1] (born 12 January 1971)[2] is a Conservative Party politician in the United Kingdom. She served as a local councillor for the Meads Ward on Eastbourne Borough Council from 2012 to 2015 winning the election by a landslide[3] and becoming deputy opposition leader with the shadow portfolio for community including housing,[4] as well as MP for Eastbourne from 2015 to 2017 where she was influential in fighting immigration issues on behalf of some constituents and against revenge porn.[5][6][7][8]

Early life[edit]

Ansell was born on 12 January 1971 in Eastbourne[2] and is the youngest of four daughters of Scottish parents.[9]

Ansell's early education was at state primaries, before being educated at Beresford House School, a private day and boarding school for girls aged 6–18.[10] She attended university at Royal Holloway, University of London, to study a Bachelor of Arts in French. Ansell also studied business at the private university École supérieure de commerce and gained a masters degree in education from the University of Brighton in 2001, at the age of 30.[11]

Ansell worked for a number of years as a French teacher, exclusively in private schools. She qualified as a headteacher in 2008, at the age of 37, but did not take up such a role. She worked in a support role at Cavendish School in Old Town, Eastbourne as In the same year, one of her children was diagnosed with a brain tumour which led her to take a sabbatical from teaching.[11]

Ansell has given various reasons for her interest and motivation in politics; Ansell described in her maiden speech that:

“I am a teacher and passionate about education, but it was my boy’s shock diagnosis of a life-threatening brain tumour, then aged five, that changed the course of my life and has ultimately brought me to the House of Commons.[12][9][11] and being a mother.[13][14]

Political career[edit]


Ansell was first elected as a Conservative Party councillor on 31 May 2012, at the age of 41.[15] She served as a councillor for three years, representing the Meads ward of Eastbourne Borough Council.[10]

During her time as a councillor, Ansell successfully secured cross party support to establishing Eastbourne as the 'Eastern Gateway Town' to the South Downs National Park and the authority's support for a second runway at Gatwick Airport. She was part of the team to bring back Meads Magic, a community Christmas event which brings thousands of people to the area.[16][17][18]

Member of Parliament[edit]

Ansell was selected by her local party membership to stand as the Conservative Party candidate in the 2015 general election. Ansell won the competitive selection for one of her party’s top target seats against candidates with health, law and military backgrounds, including two of her future parliamentary colleagues Ben Howlett and Alberto Costa.[19] Against predictions[20] she beat Stephen Lloyd, the Liberal Democrat incumbent, with a majority of 733 votes, having been described before the election by a columnist in The Independent newspaper as "a terrific candidate…eloquent, personable and clearly knows and loves the town".[21] She then went on to serve the constituency of Eastbourne for two years.[22]

Ansell exerted influence with ministers to enable substantial investment into the town. This included £75 million to improve the A27[23] a major problem for Eastbourne[24] and £5 million from the government’s Local Growth Fund Round 3 programme[25] given to the town’s Devonshire Park development and a share of £13.2 million earmarked for Sovereign Harbour from the same pot of money.[26]

Ansell was instrumental in helping an American Eastbourne resident and mother Katy Garlington,[5] who was allowed to stay in the UK after Ansell intervened with the Home Office and persuaded the then immigration minister James Brokenshire to stop her deportation.[27]

Another Eastbourne resident Atterbell Maplanka was released from custody over immigration issues after another intervention from Ansell.[6] Ansell also championed the campaign by victims of revenge porn offender Olly Whiting[28] to obtain justice for his crimes after he posted content on a US website, working with local police, Sussex PCC Katy Bourne and the then-Home Secretary, Theresa May.

Ansell worked with local Eastbourne actress Lauren Backler[29] and her campaign to reduce the bowel cancer screening age from 60 to 50 in England to bring it in line with Scotland. Backler lost her mother to the disease and Ansell organised a parliamentary debate on the issue and lobbied ministers to look into the lowering the age to 50. Backler became a champion for the charity Bowel Cancer UK[30] and raised awareness of the condition and its symptoms.

Ansell was defeated in the 2017 general election by 1,609 votes; the seat was regained by Stephen Lloyd for the Liberal Democrats. A poorly received Conservative manifesto and tactical voting were blamed for the defeat.[31]

Ansell was the first female MP to represent the constituency and credits her mother for giving her ambition.[32]

Political positions[edit]

Brexit, 2016

Ansell voted to leave the EU at the 2016 referendum in line with her constituency who voted by 57% to 43% to do the same.[33][34] Prior to making her intention to vote for Brexit, Ansell organised and chaired the largest debate on the issue in the south east of England.[35] The Big Eastbourne EU debate took place at the 1680-capacity Congress Theatre in the town on 26 May 2016 after the 900-seat Winter Garden was too small for the numbers who wanted to attend.[36]

Choice of Prime Minister, 2016

Ansell supported Theresa May in the 2016 Conservative Party leadership election. She said of May: "In these challenging times, I firmly believe she has the experience and credibility to be an excellent Prime Minister. Her authority is unmatched and as such she will command the respect of the House of Commons and the confidence of the public."[37]

2015-17 Parliamentary votes

Ansell was a government critic on grammar schools,[38] schools budgets,[39] fox hunting,[40] National Insurance changes,[41] and Personal Independence Payments benefit cuts.[42]

Ansell voted at the direction of the Conservative government whip in nearly every vote as an MP during her time in parliament. Ansell voted with Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs and rebelled on the Enterprise Bill — Clause 33 — Powers for Local Government to Vary Sunday Opening Hours for Large Shops[43][44]

Parliamentary Committees[edit]

Ansell served as member of the cross-party Ecclesiastical Committee and the Environmental Audit Select Committee of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The latter committee was influential in highlighting the danger microbeads in cleaning products held for marine life.[45] Other notable green initiatives she was involved in included her support for Beachy Head East becoming a Marine Conservation Zone.[46]

She also chaired the Education group within the Conservative Party's own 1922 Committee.[47] where she stated that her ambitions were to improve standards of education[48] and sat on several All Party Parliamentary Groups including the APPG on disability and she was vice-chair of the WASPI APPG[49] the campaign to obtain transitional pension arrangements for women born mainly in the 1950s who have missed out due to pension equalisation legislation brought in during the 2010-2015 parliament[50] There was much criticism of her predecessor Stephen Lloyd, over this issue as he had sat on the bill committee looking at the legislation that disadvantaged hundreds of thousands of women across the UK and had voted for the bill in parliament when he was an MP.[51][52]

Ian Gow[edit]

Ansell set up the annual Ian Gow Cup public speaking competition for Eastbourne secondary schools in 2015 in memory of former Eastbourne MP Ian Gow who was murdered by the IRA in 1990.[53] TV presenter David Dimbleby[54] was one of the judges during the inaugural competition, held at the Winter Garden theatre.


Funding from CARE

In common with other MPs from across the political spectrum,[55] Ansell accepted an intern from the registered charity Christian Action Research and Education (CARE). The funded staff member worked within Ansell's parliamentary office and a donation value of £8,470 was ascribed to the post as a bursary for the individual.

CARE had drawn controversy after sponsoring a conference in 2009 which included sessions promoting therapy for homosexuality described as "mentoring for the sexually broken", which was described in the press as conversion therapy or "gay cures". CARE responded to the connection in a statement: “It has been falsely claimed that CARE supports the so-called ‘gay cure’. We do not. Creating a link between CARE and this issue may make dramatic headlines but it is false and defamatory to claim or imply that CARE supports any so-called ‘gay cure’[56]

Buzzfeed reignited controversy about CARE, with a story published in the run-up to the 2017 general election. Ansell responded to the story by describing it as "fake news" and said that she was "tolerant of everyone and their beliefs, sexual orientation, colour and creed"[57]

Ansell defended her use of CARE funded intern, saying "I have a CARE intern because she was the best candidate after I interviewed. To have not given her a job because she is religious is discrimination and I stand by my decision."[58]

Metro reported that Ansell's main church was also part of a group of "anti-LGBT equality churches... which previously attempted to ‘cure’ and cast ‘demons’ out of gay and transgender people."[59]

Employment of husband using public funds

From 2015 to 2017, Ansell employed her husband as her personal assistant with public funds. In 2016, officials at the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) said that they were "taken aback" by the fact that there were still 18 MPs, including Ansell, who employed family members in their offices. This was in line with the rules which had been amended by IPSA following the MP expenses scandal to limit employing one family member per office. A review by IPSA in 2010 found that "MPs' family members can provide good value for money due to their willingness to work long and anti-social hours…evidence of only one instance of abuse under the House of Commons system."[60][61]

Although parliamentary rules allowed such practices at the time, the head of IPSA said in 2017 that employing family members in such a way was "out of step with modern employment practice" and insufficiently "fair and open".[62] A ban on MPs employing family members in their offices is due to come into effect by 2020. In reaching their conclusion IPSA wrote “this decision is not based on any identified abuse or misclaiming, the report concludes, and even ‘agree[s] with the MPs who have told us that connected parties regularly go “above and beyond” in supporting MPs in their constituency.[63]

Social media death threats

In April 2017, 51-year-old factory worker Mark Sands was jailed for four months for posting multiple death threats directed at Ansell via social media. The perpetrator had previously pleaded guilty to a charge of "sending via electronic communications a message that was grossly offensive". Sands wrote on his personal Facebook wall: "If you vote to take £30 off my money, I will personally come round to your house... and stab you to death."[64] He was also issued with a restraining order forbidding him from contacting Ansell. On jailing Sands, District Judge Christopher James said that the offence was so serious that only a custodial sentence was appropriate.[65]

In a statement released following Sands’ sentencing, Ansell said: “I do not have any anger towards Mark Sands for what he has done, but many people in public life, particularly women, have to contend with similar abuse and threats on social media sometimes every day, and it is time it was stopped.[66]

Personal life[edit]

Ansell married Nicholas Ansell in 1997. The couple has three children.[11][67] She is a member of the evangelical Christian King's Church and also attends the Catholic Our Lady of Ransom Church in Eastbourne.[1]


  1. ^ a b "Register of Members Interests" (PDF). Eastbourne Council. 10 April 2015. pp. 1, 4.
  2. ^ a b "Biography for Caroline Ansell". MyParliament. Retrieved 19 April 2017.
  3. ^ "Caroline wins Meads for Conservatives".
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b Elgot, Jessica (12 April 2016). "Home Office pressed to allow American mother to stay with family in UK" – via The Guardian.
  6. ^ a b "Dad thanks Eastbourne for release after passport photo row".
  7. ^ "The law needs to be changed on revenge porn, says Eastbourne MP".
  8. ^ "MP backs campaign to lower bowel cancer screening age".
  9. ^ a b "About". Caroline Ansell. Retrieved 10 January 2017.
  10. ^ a b "Eastbourne". UK Polling Report. Retrieved 19 April 2017.
  11. ^ a b c d "Is Westminster ready for a would-be headmistress?". Heart. Retrieved 19 April 2017.
  12. ^ "What Caroline Stands For". Caroline Ansell. Retrieved 7 May 2017.
  13. ^
  14. ^ Westminster, Department of the Official Report (Hansard), House of Commons,. "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 02 Jun 2015 (pt 0002)".
  15. ^ "Eastbourne Borough Council - Agenda for Annual Council on Wednesday, 27th May, 2015, 6.00 pm".
  16. ^ "MP hopes South Downs 'gateway' label will boost Eastbourne tourism".
  17. ^ "Meads News Eastbourne East Sussex UK".
  18. ^ "CAROLINE ANSELL: Gatwick best solution for new runway".
  19. ^ "Tories name Caroline Ansell to fight Eastbourne parliamentary seat".
  20. ^ "Ashcroft's poll of Lib Dem battleground seats: incumbency is alive and well but 2015 will be a survival election for the party". 29 September 2014.
  21. ^ "Stephen Lloyd: The Lib Dems 'saved the country, but we destroyed". 15 March 2015.
  22. ^ "Eastbourne Parliamentary constituency". BBC News. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  23. ^ "Millions pledged to improve A27 west of Polegate".
  24. ^ "A27 – £75million Update - unLtd".
  25. ^
  26. ^ Williams, Sharon. "Eastbourne To Benefit From Millions In Funding".
  27. ^ "Good news for Eastbourne family at centre of immigration battle".
  28. ^ "Man let off with caution for "revenge porn" attack re-arrested by police". The Argus.
  29. ^ "I will win my fight to lower screening age for cancer". The Argus.
  30. ^ "Bowel cancer screening age - Caroline Ansell".
  31. ^ "OUT IN THE FIELD: Politicians upstaged by baby Milo".
  32. ^ "CAROLINE ANSELL MP: Reflections on International Women's Day".
  33. ^ "Seat Details".
  34. ^ "Eastbourne MP 'with some regret' will vote for Brexit".
  35. ^ Williams, Sharon. "Do Not Miss EU Referendum Debate In Eastbourne".
  36. ^ "The BIG Eastbourne EU debate just got bigger! - Caroline Ansell".
  37. ^ "I am supporting Theresa May - Caroline Ansell".
  38. ^ Williams, Sharon. "Eastbourne Buzz - News for Eastbourne & Surrounding Areas".
  39. ^ "Eastbourne MP urges Government to rethink school spending cuts".
  40. ^ "Eastbourne MP stands firm on fox hunting ban".
  41. ^ "National Insurance Contributions - Caroline Ansell".
  42. ^ "Caroline Ansell goes against her Tory government...again". The Argus.
  43. ^ "Contact - Keep Sunday Special".
  44. ^ "Voting Record — Caroline Ansell MP, Eastbourne (25335) — The Public Whip".
  45. ^ "MPs urge Government to ban microbeads in cosmetics - News from Parliament". UK Parliament.
  46. ^ Williams, Sharon. "Calls For Beachy Head East To Become Marine Conservation Zone".
  47. ^ "Caroline Ansell MP". Retrieved 19 April 2017.
  48. ^ "1922 education committee - Caroline Ansell".
  49. ^
  50. ^ "WASPI - Women Against State Pension Inequality".
  51. ^ Westminster, Department of the Official Report (Hansard), House of Commons,. "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 18 Oct 2011 (pt 0004)".
  52. ^ "Eastbourne's former MP labelled a 'shameless opportunist'".
  53. ^ "Schools' Ian Gow Cup in memory of popular MP".
  54. ^ "Ian Gow Cup".
  55. ^ Booth, Robert; Ball, James (13 April 2012). "'Gay cure' Christian charity funded 20 MPs' interns" – via The Guardian.
  56. ^ "CARE Statement - CARE".
  57. ^ "This Tory Candidate Has An Intern Funded By A "Gay Cure" Organisation".
  58. ^ "Tory candidate defends ties to gay 'cure' group".
  59. ^ Smith, Adam (27 May 2017). "Tory in marginal seat accepts funding from 'gay cure' charity".
  60. ^ "MPs can no longer employ family members – and SpAds are delighted - Coffee House". 17 March 2017.
  61. ^ "MPs 'may be banned from hiring family members'". 3 April 2016.
  62. ^ "MPs can no longer employ family members - and SpAds are delighted - Coffee House". 17 March 2017.
  63. ^ "Ban on MPs from employing spouses at next election". 16 March 2017 – via
  64. ^ "Man jailed for four months over Facebook threat to kill MP". The Guardian. Press Association. 12 April 2017. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
  65. ^ "Man jailed for threatening to kill Caroline Ansell MP". BBC News. 12 April 2017. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
  66. ^ "Man jailed for threatening to kill Caroline Ansell MP". 12 April 2017 – via
  67. ^ Michael Wilkinson, Christopher Hope, (29 June 2015). "One in five MPs employs a family member: the full list revealed". The Daily Telegraph.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Stephen Lloyd
Member of Parliament
for Eastbourne

Succeeded by
Stephen Lloyd