Stuart in 2008
|Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health|
29 July 1999 – 7 June 2001
|Prime Minister||Tony Blair|
|Preceded by||The Baroness Hayman|
|Succeeded by||Ann Keen (2007)|
|Member of Parliament|
for Birmingham Edgbaston
1 May 1997 – 3 May 2017
|Preceded by||Jill Knight|
|Succeeded by||Preet Gill|
26 November 1955
Velden, Bavaria, West Germany
|Political party||Labour (Until 2019)|
|Occupation||Chair, Change Britain|
Gisela Stuart (née Gschaider; born 26 November 1955) is a former British Labour Party politician, who served as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Birmingham Edgbaston from 1997 until stepping down at the 2017 general election. Born and raised in West Germany, she has lived in the UK since 1974.
Stuart was Chair of the Vote Leave Campaign Committee and was one of its most high-profile figures, along with the Conservative MPs Boris Johnson and Michael Gove. The Vote Leave campaign was successful in achieving its goal at the 2016 United Kingdom European Union membership referendum of winning a majority of votes for Leave.
Since September 2016, Stuart has served as Chair of Vote Leave's successor organisation, Change Britain.
After she left Parliament, Stuart was appointed by the Conservative government as Chair of Wilton Park, an executive agency of the UK Foreign Office dedicated to conflict resolution in international relations, in October 2018.
Stuart is a member of the Steering Committee of the Constitution Reform Group (CRG), a cross-party organisation chaired by Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 7th Marquess of Salisbury, which seeks a new constitutional settlement in the UK by way of a new Act of Union. The Constitution Reform Group's new Act of Union Bill was introduced as a Private Member's Bill by Lord Lisvane in the House of Lords on 9 October 2018, when it received a formal first reading. The Bill has been described by the BBC as "one to watch" in the current Parliament.
After doing an apprenticeship in bookselling, she moved to the UK in 1974 in order to improve her English and to do a Business Studies course at Manchester Polytechnic. She was deputy director of the 1983 London Book Fair. Stuart subsequently relocated to the Midlands.
She graduated from the University of London with an LLB in 1993, having studied through the University of London External System. She began researching for a PhD in trust law (ownership of pension funds) at the University of Birmingham while she also lectured Law to AAT students at Worcestershire College, but did not complete her PhD and instead went into politics full-time.
In 1995, Stuart was selected as Labour's parliamentary candidate for the Birmingham Edgbaston constituency. The constituency, which had once been held by former Conservative Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain (1937–40), had returned only Conservative MPs for 99 years. The sitting Conservative MP at the time, Dame Jill Knight, was retiring after 31 years. On 1 May 1997, Stuart was elected as the first-ever Labour MP for the constituency, making it one of a succession of traditional Conservative seats to fall to Labour control in a landslide victory for the party. Stuart's victory was the first televised Labour gain of the evening.
During the first Tony Blair ministry, Stuart served on the Social Security Select Committee and in 1998 as PPS to Home Office Minister of State Paul Boateng, before joining the government in 1999 as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health. Stuart left this post in the reshuffle that followed after the 2001 United Kingdom general election. Her election agent in that election was John Clancy, who became leader of Birmingham City Council in 2015.
In Blair's second ministry, Stuart was appointed as one of the UK Parliamentary Representatives to the European Convention, which was tasked with drawing up a new constitution for the European Union. In this capacity, Stuart also served as one of the thirteen members of the Convention's Presidium - the steering group responsible for managing the business of the Convention.
When the draft Constitution emerged, Stuart was one of the most trenchant critics of the proposal, stating that it had been drawn up by a "self-selected group of the European political elite" determined to deepen European integration. She subsequently expounded these views in a 2004 Fabian Society pamphlet, The Making of Europe's Constitution. Consequently, she has argued in favour of British withdrawal from the European Union, becoming one of the leading Eurosceptic figures in the Labour Party. In the BBC's two-hour televised debate on the EU referendum, Stuart appeared on the "Leave" panel, along with the Conservative MPs Andrea Leadsom and Boris Johnson.
In October 2004, she became the only Labour MP who openly supported the re-election of George W. Bush at that year's U.S. presidential election, arguing "you know where you stand with George and, in today's world, that's much better than rudderless leaders who drift with the prevailing wind". She wrote that a victory for Democratic Party challenger, John Kerry, would prompt "victory celebrations among those who want to destroy liberal democracies. More terrorists and suicide bombers would step forward to become martyrs in their quest to destroy the West".
Between 2001 and 2010, Stuart also served as a member of the House of Commons Select Committee on Foreign Affairs.
She retained her seat at the 2005 United Kingdom general election but her majority was halved in both percentage and numerical terms. Despite the predictions of the pundits, Stuart went on to retain the seat at the 2010 general election, against a national tide of Labour defeat. The election resulted in the first hung parliament in 36 years, with the Conservatives having the most seats. It earned her the title of Survivor of the Year at The Spectator magazine's 2010 Parliamentarian of the Year awards, which was presented to her by the new Conservative Prime Minister, David Cameron. She retained her seat at the 2015 United Kingdom general election with a majority of 2,706 votes, more than double her majority from 2010. She joined the Commons Select Committee on Defence.
Stuart is a signatory of the Henry Jackson Society principles, which promote the spread of liberal democracy across the world and the maintenance of a strong military with global expeditionary reach. She is the editor of the weekly political magazine The House.
Since 2015, she has been a Steering Committee member of the Constitution Reform Group (CRG), a cross-party pressure group of current and former politicians, academics, constitutional law experts, former officials in Parliament and government and ordinary citizens. The CRG seeks a new constitutional settlement in the UK by way of a new Act of Union.
She announced on 19 April 2017 that she would not seek re-election at the 2017 snap general election. She was succeeded by Preet Gill, a Labour and Co-operative politician, and the first female British Sikh MP.
Stuart served as Chair of the Vote Leave, the body which was designated by the Electoral Commission as the official campaign in favour of leaving the European Union in the 2016 referendum on European Union membership. Other spokespersons for Vote Leave included Conservative MPs Boris Johnson and Michael Gove. There were various other groups advocating for Leave, officially working independently of Vote Leave, including UKIP and the Labour Leave.
Stuart was the only[according to whom?] Labour MP in the official Vote Leave Campaign. Most of the other ten Labour MPs who went against the official Labour Party policy of supporting Remain, joined Labour Leave, which had a less prominent role in the referendum. Stuart was the only Labour MP to take part in the official events, such as the televised debates, on behalf of the Leave side. During the campaign she posed in front of a controversial campaign bus which was subsequently the object of legal disputes.
On 27 April 2016, she warned Britain would be overrun by Turkish migrants if it did not leave the EU. In a statement issued on her behalf by Vote Leave, Stuart said:
Instead of giving an extra 88 million people – more than our entire population – access to the NHS I believe it would be safer to take back control. We should give our struggling NHS the £350 million we send to the EU every week.[better source needed]
Stuart's own constituency of Birmingham Edgbaston voted to Remain in the EU.
Vote Leave was criticised after the Referendum and their activities were reviewed by the Electoral Commission and the organisation was fined for minor rule breaches.
After stepping down at the 2017 general election, Stuart revealed that she had pushed for an exit clause in the European Constitution, which later became Article 50 of the Treaty on the European Union. Article 50 allows for withdrawal from the European Union by any member state and was invoked for the first and only time by Prime Minister Theresa May on 29 March 2017.
In a book entitled How to Lose a Referendum published on its first anniversary in June 2017, Stuart is quoted as having described the EU referendum as an “abuse of democratic process” and as having said she would rather it had never been called. On the eve of Brexit Gisela Stuart wrote in The Guardian "The strange thing is not that Britain is leaving the EU – it’s that we ever joined."
How Stuart voted on key matters since 2001:
- Voted for introducing a smoking ban
- Voted for introducing ID cards
- Voted for introducing foundation hospitals
- Voted for introducing student top-up fees
- Voted for Labour's anti-terrorism laws
- Voted for the Iraq War
- Voted against investigating the Iraq War
- Voted for replacing the Trident nuclear programme
- Voted for ban on fox hunting
- Voted for equal gay rights
- Voted for leaving the European Union
Outside of politics
Stuart became the Chair of Wilton Park on 1 October 2018.
- C. K. Jones, The People's University (London, 2008), p. 33
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- Vote Leave
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|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Gisela Stuart|
- Gisela Stuart MP official site at the Wayback Machine (archived 22 January 2017)
- Guardian Unlimited Politics - Ask Aristotle: Gisela Stuart MP at the Wayback Machine (archived 6 February 2006)
- TheyWorkForYou.com - Gisela Stuart MP
- "Ms Gisela Stuart – Contributions". Hansard Online. Retrieved 1 April 2018.
- "Spiegel Interview with UK Parliamentarian Gisela Stuart". Spiegel Online. 22 June 2005. Retrieved 1 April 2018.
- "The health minister answers your questions". BBC News. 30 September 1999. Retrieved 1 April 2018.
- Gisela Stuart page, BBC Politics at the Wayback Machine (archived 12 April 2009)
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
| Member of Parliament for Birmingham Edgbaston