|Member of Parliament
for Bournemouth West
6 May 2010
|Preceded by||John Butterfill|
24 September 1972 |
Belfast, Northern Ireland
|Residence||Westbourne, Dorset, England, UK|
|Alma mater||University of Southampton|
Conor Burns (born 24 September 1972) is a British Conservative Party politician. He was elected as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Bournemouth West at the 2010 general election. He was Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to Secretary of State for Northern Ireland between 2010 and 2012, before resigning from the Government due to his opposition to the Lords Reform Bill.
Burns was born in Belfast before moving with his family to Hertfordshire in 1980. He was educated at St Columba's College, St Albans and read Modern History and Politics at the University of Southampton. He is a practising Catholic, but has said that he feels unable to take communion since Bishop Philip Egan, of the diocese in which Burns resides, stated that those politicians who voted for same-sex marriage, even with the caveats upon which Burns had insisted (i.e. "guarantees that ... churches would not ultimately be forced under human rights legislation to conduct such ceremonies”), should refrain from taking the sacrament.
At Southampton he was chairman of the University's Conservative Association, 1992–93 and Chairman of Wessex Area Conservatives, 1993–94. In 1994 Burns stood unsuccessfully in the Southampton Council elections. In the run-up to the election Burns was criticised for referring to hecklers as "spastics" and calling a woman a "hunchback". He subsequently faced a students union disciplinary hearing as the vice-president of the Southampton Conservative Association. He held a number of jobs in the communications and finance sectors, most recently as an associate director of the public affairs company PLMR. Prior to that, he was Director of the Policy Research Centre for Business Ltd.; Company Secretary for De Havilland Global Knowledge Distribution plc and Manager for Zurich Advice Network.
Burns was an elected councillor on Southampton City Council for three years from 1999, serving as the Conservative Group leader from 2001. Burns stood as the Conservative Party candidate for Eastleigh in the 2001 general election, finishing second with 34.3% of the vote. Burns was an unsuccessful candidate at the Hedge End Town Council elections, before coming second in the 2005 general election, again finishing second at Eastleigh with 37.5% of the vote, 568 votes behind Chris Huhne. Burns was a member of the A-List of candidates and was selected in September 2008.
He was appointed as Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to Hugo Swire, the Minister of State at the Northern Ireland Office in 2010, before which he briefly sat on the Education select committee. By 2012, he was promoted to be PPS to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Owen Paterson. However, he resigned on 10 July 2012 to vote against the Coalition's Lords Reform Bill, of which he had been a consistent critic. He became a close acquaintance to Lady Thatcher in the later years of her life and spoke in the House of Commons debate on 10 April 2013 following her death.
Writing in 2008, Burns called for the international community to prepare a contingency plan for the governance of Zimbabwe after the eventual departure from office of Robert Mugabe. He was outspoken in calling on former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith to grant asylum to young gay Iranian student Mehdi Kazemi.
A strong Eurosceptic, Burns has been critical of the electoral system used to elect Members of the European Parliament and the impact of UK Independence Party candidates in denying victory to Conservative candidates. A friend of Captain James Philippson who died in Afghanistan, Burns has been critical of the perceived failure of the Ministry of Defence to provide troops with appropriate equipment, stating that many troops "would be alive today had they had the most basic of equipment".
Although openly gay, Burns stated he needed "cast iron guarantees" that religious organisations will not be forced into conducting same sex marriages before he voted for the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013.
In 2014 he referred the charity Oxfam to the Charity Commission stating that a tweet from the charity was "overtly political". He later criticised a letter from Church of England bishops urging Christians [clarification needed] to engage with the 2015 election as "naive" and "factually wrong".
- The London Gazette: . 13 May 2010.
- "Conor Burns profile". The Conservative Party. Retrieved 9 May 2010.
- Gay marriage MP told he has excommunicated himself for voting for same-sex weddings, telegraph.co.uk; accessed 19 September 2015.
- Bishop Egan under fire over plans to deny communion to dissenting MPs, the tablet.co.uk; accessed 19 September 2015.
- Merrin, Tom (12 April 1994). "Lilley pal 'spastics' outburst". The Daily Mirror (London, UK).
- PR Week 11 May 2010 "Many lobbyists win seats but some see majority decreased" by David Singleton
- "Vote 2001 Candidates". BBC News.
- Profile, westbourne.info; accessed 18 May 2015.
- "Eastleigh". London, UK: TheGuardian.co.uk. Retrieved 9 May 2010.
- Profile, conservativehome.blogs.com; accessed 8 May 2015.
- "Bournemouth West". BBC News. Retrieved 9 May 2010.
- "Lords reform: Government abandons crucial vote amid likely defeat". BBC News. 10 July 2012.
- Nicholas Watt and Patrick Wintour "Margaret Thatcher debate reopens raw wounds among Tory veterans", The Guardian, 10 April 2013.
- Burns on post-Mugabe Zimbabwe, conservativehome.blogs.com; accessed 18 May 2015
- Burns on Mehdi Kazemi asylum, conservativehome.blogs.com; accessed 18 May 2015.
- Burns on Mehdi Kazemi, conservativehome.blogs.com; accessed 18 May 2015.
- Burns critical of electoral system used to elect Members of the European Parliament, conservativehome.blogs.com; accessed 18 May 2015.
- Burns on UKIP, conservativehome.blogs.com; accessed 18 May 2015.
- "MoD criticised for soldier deaths". BBC News. 15 February 2008.
- Burns on MoD failures, conservativehome.blogs.com; accessed 18 May 2015.
- "Gay Ulster born MP Conor Burns not for same sex marriage". News Letter. 18 October 2012. Retrieved 18 October 2012.
- Burns @ Twitter
- "MP wants watchdog to probe 'overtly political' Oxfam campaign". 10 June 2014. Retrieved 23 April 2015.
- Church of England on 2015 general elections, churchofengland.org; accessed 18 May 2015.
- "Tories Hit Back At 'Left-Wing' Bishops' Letter". 18 February 2015. Retrieved 23 April 2015.
- "Is The Bishops' Letter Unfair 'Tory Bashing'?". 18 February 2015. Retrieved 23 April 2015.
- Conor Burns MP Conservative Party profile
- Bournemouth West Conservatives
- Profile at Parliament of the United Kingdom
- Current session contributions in Parliament at Hansard
- Voting record at Public Whip
- Record in Parliament at TheyWorkForYou
- Profile at Westminster Parliamentary Record
- Profile at BBC News Democracy Live
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
|Member of Parliament for Bournemouth West