Jenny Willott

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Jenny Willott

Jenny Willott, September 2009 1 cropped.jpg
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Employment Relations, Consumer and Postal Affairs
In office
18 December 2013 – 30 June 2014
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Preceded byJo Swinson
Succeeded byJo Swinson
Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change
In office
12 May 2010 – 9 December 2010
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Succeeded byDuncan Hames
Member of Parliament
for Cardiff Central
In office
5 May 2005 – 30 March 2015
Preceded byJon Owen Jones
Succeeded byJo Stevens
Majority4,576 (12.7%)
Personal details
Born (1974-05-29) 29 May 1974 (age 45)
Wimbledon, Merton, London, England
Political partyWelsh Liberal Democrats
Spouse(s)Andrew Poole
Children2 sons
Alma materDurham University
London School of Economics[dead link]

Jennifer Nancy Willott (born 29 May 1974) is a British politician. She was the Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament for Cardiff Central from 2005 to 2015.[1] Willott became a junior minister in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and Government Equalities Office in December 2013, temporarily standing in for Jo Swinson while she was on maternity leave. She is the first woman and first Liberal Democrat to represent her seat. She was a councillor in the London Borough of Merton from 1998 to 2000.


Willott was born in Wimbledon, London.[2] She was educated at Uppingham School, studied Classics at St Mary's College, Durham University,[2] and attended the London School of Economics, obtaining an MSc in Development Studies.

Political career[edit]

For a while after university she was chief researcher for Lembit Opik, Liberal Democrat MP for Montgomeryshire.

Willott's 2005 campaign was closely linked to specific local and national issues and her support was widespread across all wards.

In her maiden speech, Willott pledged to "make Cardiff proud" and celebrated the cultural diversity of her constituency. She declared her priorities in parliament would be local health services, tuition and top-up fees, and council tax.[3] She supported Sir Menzies Campbell in the leadership election in 2006, and was later appointed Shadow Minister for Youth Affairs, Whip, and Deputy Chief Whip.

In 2008 she was appointed as Shadow Minister for Justice and later Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. In January 2009 she was appointed Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.[4]

In December 2010 she resigned her post as parliamentary aide to Chris Huhne shortly before a vote to increase tuition fees as recommended by the Browne Review, to keep her pledge to constituents that she would vote against any increase in fees.[5]

In a mini-reshuffle of the Coalition Government on 3 February 2012 caused by Huhne's prosecution and subsequent resignation, Willott was appointed an Assistant Whip.[6]

In May 2014 Willott complained about the hostile atmosphere of prime minister's questions and the low number of female ministers. She called for all-female shortlists for MPs, something which was not Liberal Democrat party policy.[7] In 2014, she left the Government but was appointed to the Privy Council by David Cameron.[8] In 2015, she lost her seat in the House of Commons to the Labour Party's Jo Stevens.

Post Political Career[edit]

Willott works as The Director of Enterprise and Innovation at St Mary’s University, Twickenham.[9] She is also a member of IPSAs board.[10]

She was awarded an OBE in the Queen's 2018 Birthday Honours for Services to Political and Public Life.

Personal life[edit]

She is married to Andrew Poole and they have two children;[11] the birth of her second child in February 2013 notably necessitated her absence from a vote on the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Bill.[12]


Willott was subject to criticism from rival political parties and the media in the wake of the expenses scandal, as it emerged she claimed more in expenses and administration costs than any other Welsh MP. Her expenses and office costs were £57,000 in a year, including claims for a new flat and costs of moving offices in central Cardiff.[13]

Willott also came under some pressure from political opponents over her support for the bedroom tax. A protest outside her Cardiff office about the issue led to her not going in for the day.[14]


  1. ^ "Kirkcaldy & Cowdenbeath parliamentary constituency - Election 2017". BBC News.
  2. ^ a b "Biography". Jenny Willott MP. Retrieved 17 March 2015.
  3. ^ Jenny Willott's maiden speech, 26 May 2006
  4. ^ My Biography, Jenny Willott MP
  5. ^ "Lib Dems quit government to oppose tuition fees rise". BBC News. 9 December 2010. Retrieved 9 December 2010.
  6. ^ "Press notice: New Ministerial Appointments". 3 February 2012.
  7. ^ "Equalities minister decries male-led Westminster and 'hateful' PMQs". 8 May 2014. Retrieved 8 May 2014.
  8. ^ "Privy Council appointments: November 2014". United Kingdom Cabinet Office. Retrieved 17 March 2015.
  9. ^ "St Mary's Director of Enterprise and Innovation Awarded OBE".
  10. ^ "Board and Chief Executive".
  11. ^ "Who's Who". Retrieved 17 March 2015.
  12. ^ "Lib Dem MP Martin Horwood: Why I wasn't present for the equal marriage vote". PinkNews. 7 February 2013. Retrieved 17 March 2015.
  13. ^ Graham Henry (17 August 2013). "Welsh MP expenses 2012/13 – Wales Online". walesonline. Retrieved 17 March 2015.
  14. ^ "Morning Star :: Shamed Cardiff MP flees bedroom tax protesters". 22 November 2013. Retrieved 17 March 2015.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Jon Owen Jones
Member of Parliament for Cardiff Central
Succeeded by
Jo Stevens