Gisela Stuart

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Gisela Stuart
Stuart in 2008
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health
In office
29 July 1999 – 7 June 2001
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Preceded byThe Baroness Hayman
Succeeded byAnn Keen (2007)
Member of Parliament
for Birmingham Edgbaston
In office
1 May 1997 – 3 May 2017
Preceded byJill Knight
Succeeded byPreet Gill
Personal details
Gisela Gschaider

(1955-11-26) 26 November 1955 (age 64)
Velden, Bavaria, West Germany
Political partyLabour (Until 2019)
  • Robert Stuart
    (m. 1980; div. 2000)
  • Derek Scott
    (m. 2010; died 2012)
Alma mater
OccupationChair, 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.[2]

Stuart is a member of the Steering Committee of the Constitution Reform Group (CRG)[3], 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[4]. The Constitution Reform Group's new Act of Union Bill[4] 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"[5] in the current Parliament.

Early life[edit]

Gisela Gschaider was born in Velden, Bavaria, West Germany on 26 November 1955 to Martin and Liane Gschaider.[6][7] She attended the Staatliche Realschule Vilsbiburg in Vilsbiburg.[6]

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.[8] She was deputy director of the 1983 London Book Fair.[9] 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.[10] 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.[1]

In 1994, as Gisela Gschaider, Stuart contested the Worcester and South Warwickshire seat at the European elections[11] for Labour. She lost by 1,000 votes.

Parliamentary career[edit]

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.[12] Her election agent in that election was John Clancy, who became leader of Birmingham City Council in 2015.[13]

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.[14] 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.[15]

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".[16]

Between 2001 and 2010, Stuart also served as a member of the House of Commons Select Committee on Foreign Affairs.[12]

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.[17] 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.[18] 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.[19] She joined the Commons Select Committee on Defence.[12]

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.[20] She is the editor of the weekly political magazine The House.[21]

She was sworn in as a member of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom in 2015, giving her the honorific title "The Right Honourable" for life.[22]

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.[23] The CRG seeks a new constitutional settlement in the UK by way of a new Act of Union.[24]

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.[25]

In 2019 Stuart announced she would vote for the Conservative Party in the 2019 general election.[26] She remained a member of the Labour Party after the election.[27]

Vote Leave[edit]

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.[28] Stuart was the only Labour MP to take part in the official events, such as the televised debates, on behalf of the Leave side.[29] During the campaign she posed in front of a controversial campaign bus[30] which was subsequently the object of legal disputes.[31]

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.[32][better source needed]

Stuart's own constituency of Birmingham Edgbaston voted to Remain in the EU.[33]

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.[34]

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.[35] 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.[36]

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."[37]

Voting record[edit]

How Stuart voted on key matters since 2001:[38]

  • 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[edit]

In 2016, Stuart became the sixth President of the Birmingham Bach Choir.[39]

Stuart became the Chair of Wilton Park on 1 October 2018.[40]

Personal life[edit]

She is a Catholic.[41] She has two sons. She married Robert Stuart in 1980, they divorced in 2000. Gisela married Derek Scott in 2010. He died in 2012.[6]


  1. ^ a b C. K. Jones, The People's University (London, 2008), p. 33
  2. ^ "Foreign & Commonwealth Office announce new Chair of Wilton Park". GOV.UK. Archived from the original on 25 November 2018. Retrieved 25 November 2018.
  3. ^ "Home".
  4. ^ a b "Act of Union Bill [HL] 2017-19 — UK Parliament".
  5. ^ D'Arcy, Mark (15 December 2019). "Ten names to keep an eye on in Parliament" – via
  6. ^ a b c "Stuart, Rt Hon. Gisela (Gschaider)". A & C Black. Retrieved 29 November 2019.
  7. ^ Prince, Rosa (2 June 2017). "Why I'm standing down from Parliament: Gisela Stuart, MP for Birmingham, Edgbaston". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 6 March 2019. Retrieved 29 November 2019.(subscription required)
  8. ^ Chakelian, Anoosh (30 November 2016). ""There is more to write about": Labour eurosceptic Gisela Stuart accuses journalists of hamming up Brexit hate crime". New Statesman. Archived from the original on 1 December 2017. Retrieved 18 November 2017.
  9. ^ "Vote2001: Candidates – Gisela Stuart". Archived from the original on 23 May 2004. Retrieved 18 November 2017.
  10. ^ "Gisela Stuart - graduated 1993 | University of London International Programmes". 27 September 2011. Archived from the original on 7 April 2017. Retrieved 6 April 2017.
  11. ^ "European Institute". 28 August 2007. Archived from the original on 24 March 2012. Retrieved 2 December 2011.
  12. ^ a b c "Gisela Stuart Biography". Archived from the original on 15 September 2014. Retrieved 1 April 2018.
  13. ^ Elkes, Neil (23 November 2015). "Find out all about the new leader of Birmingham City Council John Clancy". Birmingham Mail. Archived from the original on 25 November 2015. Retrieved 1 December 2015.
  14. ^ "Labour MP Gisela Stuart: UK should leave European Union". BBC News. Archived from the original on 11 January 2016. Retrieved 14 February 2016.
  15. ^ "EU referendum: Leave and Remain clash in BBC Great Debate". BBC News. 22 June 2016. Archived from the original on 4 February 2018. Retrieved 1 April 2018.
  16. ^ Hennessy, Patrick (31 October 2004). "Anti-Kerry remarks by Labour MP put Blair on the spot". The Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 17 April 2011. Retrieved 2 December 2011.
  17. ^ "Birmingham City Council: General Election 2010". GB-BIR: 6 May 2010. Archived from the original on 8 May 2010. Retrieved 2 December 2011.
  18. ^ "Gisela Stuart Survivor of the Year Award". Archived from the original on 20 October 2013. Retrieved 20 October 2013.
  19. ^ "Ms Gisela Stuart MP". UK Parliament. Archived from the original on 8 June 2015. Retrieved 3 June 2015.
  20. ^ "Signatories to the Statement of Principles". The Henry Jackson Society. 28 November 2011. Archived from the original on 8 August 2010. Retrieved 2 December 2011.
  21. ^ "MP's pounds 63,000 profit home; New expenses controversy hits Brum MP Gisela". Archived from the original on 6 October 2013. Retrieved 2 December 2011.
  22. ^ "Privy Counsellors - Privy Council". Archived from the original on 13 July 2019. Retrieved 26 July 2018.
  23. ^ "Home". Constitution Reform Group. Archived from the original on 8 October 2018. Retrieved 15 January 2019.
  24. ^ "Act of Union Bill [HL] 2017-19 — UK Parliament".
  25. ^ Kirkham, David (29 April 2017). "Preet Gill Confirmed As Labour Candidate For Edgbaston". Redbrick (student newspaper). University of Birmingham. Archived from the original on 12 May 2017. Retrieved 18 May 2017.
  26. ^ "Ex-Labour MP urges voters to back Boris Johnson to deliver Brexit". Evening Standard. 29 November 2019. Archived from the original on 11 December 2019. Retrieved 11 December 2019.
  27. ^ Sparrow, Andrew (30 December 2019). "Brexit: Boris Johnson will have to break his promise not to extend transition, EU trade commissioner claims - as it happened" – via
  28. ^ Labour, Leave (4 August 2016). "Labour Leave Members". Labour Leave. Archived from the original on 16 December 2015. Retrieved 1 April 2018.
  29. ^ Elgot, Jessica (9 June 2016). "EU referendum debates: when and where to watch them". the Guardian. Archived from the original on 29 March 2018. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  30. ^ "Gobby Gisela". The Steeple Times. 31 March 2019. Archived from the original on 15 August 2019. Retrieved 22 August 2019.
  31. ^ "Boris Johnson is facing a legal challenge". The Independent. 14 May 2019. Archived from the original on 22 August 2019. Retrieved 22 August 2019.
  32. ^ Vote Leave
  33. ^ Brown, Graeme (28 June 2016). "Birmingham Leave MPs' constituencies voted Remain". birminghammail. Archived from the original on 29 March 2018. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  34. ^ Elgot, Jessica (17 July 2018). "Vote Leave fined and reported to police by Electoral Commission". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Archived from the original on 30 July 2019. Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  35. ^ "Revealed: How a former Labour MP inadvertently laid the groundwork for Brexit". The Telegraph. 2 June 2017. Archived from the original on 7 June 2017. Retrieved 8 June 2017.
  36. ^ "Article 50: May signs letter that will trigger Brexit". BBC News. 28 March 2017. Archived from the original on 27 July 2019. Retrieved 8 June 2017.
  37. ^ Stuart, Gisela (31 January 2020). "The strange thing is not that Britain is leaving the EU – it's that we ever joined | Gisela Stuart" – via
  38. ^ "They Work For You". They Work For You. Archived from the original on 28 June 2013. Retrieved 20 July 2019.
  39. ^ Arts Professional, Arts People, published 11 Nov 2016, Archived 1 May 2018 at the Wayback Machine
  40. ^ "Foreign & Commonwealth Office announce new Chair of Wilton Park". GOV.UK. Archived from the original on 25 November 2018. Retrieved 10 May 2019.
  41. ^ Lee, Ceridwen (27 August 2015). "Fall in number of Catholic MPs in the House of Commons ahead of landmark debate on assisted dying". The Tablet. Archived from the original on 8 December 2019. Retrieved 29 November 2019.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Jill Knight
Member of Parliament for Birmingham Edgbaston
Succeeded by
Preet Gill