Helen Whately

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Helen Whately

Official portrait of Helen Whately crop 2.jpg
Deputy Chair of the Conservative Party
Assumed office
17 April 2019
LeaderTheresa May
Preceded byJames Cleverly
Vice Chairman of the
Conservative Party for Women
Assumed office
27 July 2018
LeaderTheresa May
Preceded byMaria Caulfield
Member of Parliament
for Faversham and Mid Kent
Assumed office
8 May 2015
Preceded byHugh Robertson
Majority17,413 (35%)
Personal details
Born
Helen Olivia Bicknell Lightwood

(1976-06-23) 23 June 1976 (age 42)
Norwich, United Kingdom
Political partyConservative
Spouse(s)
Marcus Whately (m. 2005)
Children3
Alma materLady Margaret Hall, Oxford
WebsiteOfficial website

Helen Olivia Bicknell Whately[1] (née Lightwood;[2][3] 23 June 1976) is a British Conservative Party politician and former management consultant who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for the Faversham and Mid Kent constituency in Kent since 2015. She was given the role of Conservative Campaign Headquarters (CCHQ) Vice Chair for Women on 27 July 2018,[4] following the resignation of Maria Caulfield in protest at the Brexit strategy of the Prime Minister, Theresa May.[5] Since 17 April 2019, she has also been Deputy Chairwoman of the Conservative Party.

Early life and career[edit]

Helen Olivia Bicknell Lightwood[6] was born in Norwich on 23 June 1976, and grew up near Redhill, Surrey. Both her parents worked as doctors.[7][8][9] She was educated at an all-girls Roman Catholic school before entering the sixth form at the independent Westminster School in London.[8][10] During her school years she undertook work experience in hospitals, with the intention of following her parents into a medical career, but Whately commented in her maiden speech as MP that it instead incentivised her to pursue a career in which she could improve healthcare as a whole.[11]

After leaving school, she taught English in rural Nepal for a year.[9] Lightwood then matriculated at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford in 1995, initially studying Human Sciences before switching to Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) after the first year.[8][12] During her time at Oxford she was a member of debating society the Oxford Union, but she did not have any interest in student politics, later saying that she felt that it "did not seem to be about getting stuff done".[8]

After university, she worked at PricewaterhouseCoopers for two years as a management consultant trainee before working at AOL where Lightwood was involved in setting up their internet film service.[9][13][14] After this she worked as a media policy advisor for the then Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and Conservative Party MP Hugo Swire. This experience inspired her to pursue a political career.[8]

She unsuccessfully contested the 2010 general election in the Kingston and Surbiton constituency for the Conservative Party, losing to the incumbent Liberal Democrat MP Ed Davey by 7,560 votes (13.3%).[15] From 2007 to 2015, Whately worked as an engagement manager for the management consultancy firm McKinsey & Company in their healthcare division.[14][16]

Parliamentary career[edit]

Whately was selected by the Conservative Party in February 2015 to contest the Faversham and Mid Kent seat in an all-women shortlist.[17] The constituency's previous Conservative MP Hugh Robertson had chosen in January not to seek re-election.[18] She had also made the shortlist for the Wealden, North East Hampshire, South Cambridgeshire, Bury St. Edmunds and Banbury constituencies.[17]

She was elected as MP for Faversham and Mid Kent at the 2015 general election with 24,895 votes (54%) and a majority of 16,652 (36.4%).[19] The constituency is considered as a safe seat, for it has been represented by Conservative MPs since its creation in 1997.[20] Whately's maiden speech on 2 June focused on the National Health Service.[11] In July, she was chosen to sit on the Commons Health Select Committee.[21] In December, she voted to support Prime Minister David Cameron's plans to carry out airstrikes against ISIL targets in Syria.[22]

Whately supported the United Kingdom remaining within the European Union (EU) in the June 2016 membership referendum.[23] She stated her reason for this was that British membership of the EU meant greater economic growth, security, standards of living for British people, and British influence in international affairs.[24]

In July 2016, Whately was appointed as the Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to the International Trade Minister Greg Hands.[14] In October, she was selected as the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Mental Health and of the APPG for Fruit and Vegetable Farmers.[25][26][27] In February 2017, she voted to support the government's motion for the invoking of Article 50 to formally start the process of the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the EU. Whately, a "Remain" supporter, explained her decision as honouring the result of the referendum.[28][29]

In January 2017, she faced criticism from some local residents for tweeting enthusiastically about being at the inauguration of President Donald Trump, due to his controversial policies. She responded that she was representing parliamentarians from the United Kingdom, and that it was important to build links with key foreign allies.[30]

Whately held her seat in the general election in June 2017, with 30,390 (61.1%) votes and an increased majority of 17,413 (35%).[31] Following the election she became the PPS to the Secretary of State for Education and Minister for Women and Equalities, Justine Greening.[32] She also became the chair of the APPG for Health, and Personalised Medicine and continued to be chair of the APPG for Mental Health, and Fruit and Vegetable Farmers.[33][34][35]

In July 2017, Whately was criticised for accepting several thousand pounds' worth of hospitality from the Saudi Arabian government before going on to defend its record in a parliamentary debate. The debate followed an urgent question by Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake over fears of the imminent execution of 14 men for protest-related offences, including a number who were children at the time of their alleged offences. Whately had urged parliamentarians to "appreciate that the government of Saudi Arabia are taking to steps to improve their actions on human rights", but was criticised by an opposition Labour Party MP as a "serial apologist for the regime".[36][37]

In January 2018, she was appointed as PPS to Brandon Lewis, the Minister without portfolio and Conservative Party Chairman.[38]

She became Vice Chairman of the Conservative Party for Women on 27 July 2018, after Maria Caulfield stood down in protest at the Government's approach to exiting the European Union.

In the House of Commons she has sat on the Health and Social Care Committee.[39]

Campaigns[edit]

In 2017, she campaigned for the repeal of the ban on foxhunting with dogs in England and Wales, stating that it did not protect animal welfare.[40]

She campaigned with the Kent County Council for two new schools to be opened in Maidstone, Kent to relieve pressure on primary school places as well as offering more places for children with special needs.[41] This resulted in the opening of Maidstone Primary Academy and the secondary special school, Bearsted Academy.[42][43]

Whately campaigned against Maidstone's Local Plan (a policy document that defines the framework for development in the area until 2031[44]) as she felt that it did not have enough funding for improvements in infrastructure and roads and could damage local landmarks such as Leeds Castle.[45] Both Whately and Maidstone and The Weald MP Helen Grant wrote to the then Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Sajid Javid in September 2017 to intervene in the matter, but he declined as he felt that it was a decision that should be made locally.[46][47] Maidstone Borough Council formally adopted the Local Plan in October.[48]

'Tatler tory'[edit]

Whately was featured in an article in Tatler magazine in September 2008 on ten of the most promising Conservative candidates for the next general election in marginal seats.[49][50] The piece was reportedly criticised by the Conservative Party leader at the time and went on to achieve notoriety for the relative electoral failure of those featured, in an election (2010) when the Conservative Party won seats and went into Government.[51][52] Further issues relating to one of the other featured candidates, Mark Clarke, led to the phrase 'curse of the Tatler tory'.[53][54] Although Whately was not elected in 2010, she was successful in the following general election and was the only one featured in the magazine who was an MP after the 2017 general election.

Personal life[edit]

Whately lives in London and in a village near Faversham.[55][56] She has been married to Marcus Whately (whom she met at the University of Oxford) since 2005.[6][9] They have three children. Marcus is the founder and co-chief executive officer of an energy company.[14][57] She has one older brother.[8] Since 2015, she has been a vice-president of the Maidstone branch of the learning disability charity Mencap.[58][59][60]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "No. 61230". The London Gazette. 18 May 2015. p. 9123.
  2. ^ "Whately". The Daily Telegraph. 3 August 2008. Archived from the original on 11 November 2017. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  3. ^ "Whately". The Daily Telegraph. 15 August 2010. Archived from the original on 12 November 2017. Retrieved 11 November 2017.
  4. ^ Walker, Peter (8 January 2018). "Brandon Lewis unveiled as Tory chairman in chaotic reshuffle". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 8 January 2018.
  5. ^ "Tory vice-chairs quit over PM's Brexit plan". BBC News. 10 July 2018.
  6. ^ a b "Results for England & Wales Marriages 1837–2005". Findmypast. Archived from the original on 9 November 2017. Retrieved 28 October 2017.
  7. ^ "Biography for Helen Whately". MyParliament. Archived from the original on 28 April 2017. Retrieved 22 April 2017.
  8. ^ a b c d e f Finlay, Simon. "Personality Profile" (PDF). Mid Kent Living. pp. 8–9. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 November 2017. Retrieved 7 May 2017.
  9. ^ a b c d "Conservatives are putting faith in youthful Whately". Surrey Comet. 30 April 2007. Archived from the original on 24 November 2015. Retrieved 14 September 2015.
  10. ^ "Who wants your vote in Faversham and Mid Kent?". Kent Online. 15 April 2015. Archived from the original on 15 August 2015. Retrieved 14 September 2015.
  11. ^ a b Whately, Helen (2 June 2015). "Maiden Speech". Helen Whately. Archived from the original on 28 August 2017. Retrieved 27 August 2017.
  12. ^ "LMH, Oxford – Prominent Alumni". Archived from the original on 12 May 2015. Retrieved 22 May 2015.
  13. ^ Hopkirk, Elizabeth; Mendick, Robert (9 September 2008). "A future Tory Cabinet ... at least according to Tatler". London Evening Standard. Archived from the original on 13 January 2017. Retrieved 11 January 2017.
  14. ^ a b c d "Q & A with Helen". Helen Whately. Archived from the original on 3 December 2017. Retrieved 11 January 2017.
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  16. ^ "Helen Whately". Health Service Journal. Archived from the original on 28 August 2017. Retrieved 21 June 2017.
  17. ^ a b "Helen Whately to replace Sir Hugh Robertson as conservative candidate for Faversham and Mid Kent". Kent Online. Archived from the original on 11 May 2015. Retrieved 7 May 2015.
  18. ^ "Hugh Robertson, former Conservative minister, to stand down". BBC News. 15 January 2015. Archived from the original on 15 January 2015.
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  22. ^ "Syria strikes: Find out how your MP voted". BBC News. 3 December 2015. Archived from the original on 3 December 2015.
  23. ^ Goodenough, Tom (16 February 2016). "Which Tory MPs back Brexit, who doesn't and who is still on the fence?". The Spectator. Archived from the original on 22 October 2016. Retrieved 11 October 2016.
  24. ^ Whately, Helen (22 May 2017). "Why I'm voting to stay in the EU". Helen Whately. Archived from the original on 18 November 2017.
  25. ^ "All-Party Parliamentary Group on Mental Health". parliament.uk. Archived from the original on 13 January 2017. Retrieved 11 January 2017.
  26. ^ Pyman, Tom (12 October 2016). "Helen Whately elected chair of parliamentary group for mental health". Kent News. Archived from the original on 19 April 2017.
  27. ^ McEwan, Gavin (4 November 2016). "New parliamentary group hears fruit and veg growers' concerns". Horticulture Week. Archived from the original on 24 November 2017. Retrieved 1 April 2017.
  28. ^ Whately, Helen (2 February 2017). "Brexit: Let's use this opportunity to frame the country's future". Helen Whately. Archived from the original on 3 December 2017. Retrieved 3 December 2017.
  29. ^ Batchelor, Tom (1 February 2017). "Article 50 Brexit vote: Full list of MPs who backed Theresa May starting official EU negotiations — and those who voted against". The Independent. Archived from the original on 1 December 2017. Retrieved 3 December 2017.
  30. ^ "Faversham and Mid Kent MP Helen Whately faces backlash after tweet about Donald Trump's inauguration". Kent Online. 22 January 2017. Retrieved 14 October 2018.
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  41. ^ McWethy, Claire (28 March 2017). "MP Helen Whately plea for two new schools in Maidstone at Kent Medical Campus". Kent Online. Archived from the original on 28 March 2017. Retrieved 21 June 2017.
  42. ^ Whately, Helen (12 April 2017). "Two new schools for Maidstone!". Helen Whately. Archived from the original on 17 September 2017. Retrieved 21 June 2017.
  43. ^ "Bearsted to get its new primary school — full details". Downs Mail. 12 April 2017. Archived from the original on 26 November 2017. Retrieved 26 November 2017.
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  45. ^ Smith, Alan (11 September 2017). "MP's last minute bid to stop Maidstone's Local Plan". Kent Online. Archived from the original on 12 September 2017. Retrieved 30 November 2017.
  46. ^ "MP attempts halt on Local Plan for housing by appeal to Secretary of State". Downs Mail. 11 September 2017. Archived from the original on 30 November 2017. Retrieved 30 November 2017.
  47. ^ McConnell, Ed (3 October 2017). "Maidstone's Local Plan to be decided on after Sajid Javid decides not to intervene". Kent Online. Archived from the original on 9 October 2017. Retrieved 30 November 2017.
  48. ^ Gazet, David (25 October 2017). "Maidstone's Local Plan has been adopted". Kent Online. Archived from the original on 26 October 2017. Retrieved 30 November 2017.
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  55. ^ "IPSA record". IPSA. Retrieved 14 October 2018.
  56. ^ "Faversham MP Helen Whately forced to evacuate home after flood". Kent Online. Retrieved 14 October 2018.
  57. ^ "Team". Estover. Archived from the original on 13 January 2017. Retrieved 11 January 2017.
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  60. ^ "Helen Grant visits Mencap with fellow MPs". Maidstone and the Weald Conservatives. 16 November 2015. Archived from the original on 28 August 2017. Retrieved 21 June 2017.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Hugh Robertson
Member of Parliament
for Faversham and Mid Kent

2015–present
Incumbent