Jess Phillips

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Jess Phillips
Member of Parliament
for Birmingham Yardley
Assumed office
7 May 2015
Preceded by John Hemming
Majority 16,574 (37.2%)
Personal details
Born Jessica Rose Trainor[1]
(1981-10-09) 9 October 1981 (age 36)[2][3]
Birmingham, England
Political party Labour
Alma mater

Jessica Rose Phillips (born 9 October 1981) is a British politician. She was first elected as the Labour Member of Parliament (MP) for Birmingham Yardley in 2015, and was re-elected at the 2017 snap general election.

Early life and career[edit]

The youngest of four children, Phillips is the daughter of Stewart Trainor, a teacher, and Jean Trainor (née Mackay), who was Deputy Chief Executive of the NHS Confederation and Chair of South Birmingham Mental Health Trust.[4][5][6] They were politically active: "Growing up with my father was like growing up with Jeremy Corbyn" she told Rachel Cooke of The Observer in March 2016.[7] Phillips went to King Edward VI Camp Hill School for Girls, a local grammar school.[7][8] Her childhood ambition was to become Prime Minister.[7]

Phillips studied Economic and Social History/Social Policy at the University of Leeds between 2000-2003. She marched in protest against the Iraq War, as did her parents.[9] Between 2011-2013, she studied for a postgraduate diploma in Public Sector Management at the University of Birmingham.[10]

From 2010 onwards, Phillips worked for Women's Aid.[7] She had a post as a Business Development Manager at the domestic sexual abuse charity, responsible for refugees from sexual abuse in Sandwell in the West Midlands.[11][12][13][14] Before working for the charity, she worked for her parents at their company Healthlinks Event Management Services Limited.[10]

Phillips left the Labour Party during the years of Tony Blair's leadership, rejoining after the 2010 general election.[7] Her period at Women's Aid made Phillips "utterly pragmatic... I learned that my principles don't matter as much as [people's] lives."[7] In the 2012 local elections, she was elected as a Labour councillor for the Longbridge ward, taking the seat from the Conservatives.[15] She was then appointed as the victims' champion at Birmingham City Council, lobbying police and criminal justice organisations on behalf of victims.[13][14][16][17] She also served on the West Midlands Police and Crime Panel.[10]

Member of Parliament[edit]

2015 election and first months in the Commons[edit]

Phillips was selected to contest Birmingham Yardley in June 2013, a constituency at the time represented by John Hemming of the Liberal Democrats who at the 2010 general election, retained the seat with a majority of 3,002 votes.[18] For the 2015 general election, Labour required a swing of 3.7% to take the seat,[19] and after a swing of 11.7%, Phillips achieved a majority of 6,595 votes; equivalent to 16% of votes cast.[20][21] She made her maiden speech in the House of Commons on 28 May 2015, highlighting the issue of homelessness.[22] In the 2015 Labour leadership election, Phillips nominated Yvette Cooper for Labour leader and Tom Watson for deputy leader.[23][24]

Phillips verbally clashed with fellow Labour MP Diane Abbott on 14 September over the gender composition of Jeremy Corbyn's first Shadow Cabinet. After she asked Corbyn why he had failed to appoint a woman to shadow the great offices of state, Abbott accused her of being "sanctimonious" and pointed out that Phillips was "not the only feminist in the PLP (Parliamentary Labour Party)". Corbyn did not intervene.[25] Owen Bennett wrote in The Huffington Post that Phillips recounted: "'I roundly told her to fuck off.' When asked what Ms Abbott did after that suggestion, Ms Phillips replied: 'She fucked off.'"[26] According to Diane Abbott in a January 2018 Guardian interview: "Jess Phillips never told me to fuck off. What was extraordinary is that she made a big deal of telling people she had".[27]

Phillips was appointed Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to Lucy Powell, then Shadow Education Secretary, in September 2015.[28]

In October 2015, Phillips sparked a social media storm after she mocked the Conservative MP Philip Davies for trying to get a debate about International Men's Day.[29] Phillips openly laughed and pulled faces while Davies spoke, and then stated that: "You’ll have to excuse me for laughing. As the only woman on this committee, it seems like every day to me is International Men’s Day."[30][31] Davies responded by stating that, "If a male MP had reacted in that way about the need for debate on International Women’s Day, there would have been hell to pay. It’s entirely possible you’d be removed from Chambers or have the Whip removed. I’m surprised she finds that a laughing matter."[29][30] Colleagues from both the Labour and Conservative parties agreed with Davies, and permission for a debate in Westminster Hall on 19 November was eventually granted.[31] Phillips was not present at the debate, partly because she did not want her clash with Davies to become the dominant issue. She wrote in The Independent on 19 November: "I commend Philip Davies for changing the thrust of the debate to focus on male suicide — but in and of itself this day serves no useful function".[32] Following Phillips's objections she was subjected to rape threats on social media.[33][34]

Phillips told Owen Jones in December 2015 that she had told Corbyn and his staff "to their faces: 'The day that ... you are hurting us more than you are helping us, I won't knife you in the back, I'll knife you in the front'", if it looked as though he was damaging Labour's chances of winning the next general election.[35] Responding to criticism about her use of language, Phillips said on Twitter: "I am no more going to actually knife Jeremy Corbyn than I am actually a breath of fresh air, or a pain in the arse".[35]

Since January 2016[edit]

In January 2016, Phillips said on Question Time that events akin to the mass sexual assaults in Cologne happened every week on Birmingham's Broad Street. She insisted any "patriarchal culture" must be challenged, but the UK should not "rest on its laurels" where two women are murdered every week.[36] In response to criticism she told the Birmingham Mail: "This isn’t something that refugees have brought into our country. This is something that’s always existed".[37][38] Journalist Joan Smith criticised these remarks and asked Phillips to admit she was wrong.[39]

Phillips criticised the gender makeup of Labour's Shadow Cabinet reshuffle in January 2016.[40][41] In June 2016, she stepped down from her role as PPS to Lucy Powell, the Shadow Education Secretary, following the resignation of Powell and other Shadow Cabinet members over the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn.[42] In July 2016, Phillips threatened to resign from the Labour Party and sit as an independent MP if Jeremy Corbyn was re-elected as leader of the party, stating she would find it "incredibly difficult" to continue serving under Corbyn's leadership.[43]

After receiving several thousand threatening or demeaning tweets within a 36-hour period in May 2016, including allusions to rape, Phillips complained to Twitter and was told the tweets did not break its rules. She accused the company of "colluding" with her abusers.[44][45] Her response to the murder in June 2016 of her friend, the Labour MP Jo Cox, was that it "makes me want to fight harder".[46][clarification needed] She wrote of them both receiving online abuse and threats: "Usually, we both shrugged it off, never feeling any real fear. Conversations usually ended with a defiant, 'we won't let the bastards grind us down' and a cuddle".[46] In August 2016, she told The World at One on Radio 4 that a "panic room" was being installed in her constituency office which now has an alarm system. At her home, improved locks have been fitted.[47]

She became chair of the Women’s Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) following a vote in September 2016, defeating her predecessor Dawn Butler, considered a Corbyn ally.[48][49]

On 23 February 2017, a first book written by Phillips, Everywoman, One Woman's Truth About Speaking the Truth, was published by Penguin Books.[50][51]

During the 2017 general election campaign, Phillips criticised the calling of the snap election.[52] She was reselected as the Labour candidate for Birmingham Yardley, and coincidentally her predecessor, John Hemming was reselected by the Liberal Democrats as their official candidate, in what was reported as a "grudge match".[53] Phillips subsequently gained a 57.1% share of the vote, increasing her majority to 16,574 votes, with the Conservatives finishing in second place and the Lib Dems in third place. Upon her victory, she continued her criticisms of Hemming.[54]

Following the general election, Phillips said the Women's PLP would co-ordinate to promote policies beneficial to women in the context of a hung parliament.[55] In July 2017, Phillips called for a review into elections for chairs of House of Commons select committees due to the relatively low number of female candidates.[56] Phillips is a member of the Labour Friends of Israel.[57]

In March 2018, Phillips again threatened to resign from the Labour Party, this time in response to Labour's handling of sexual harassment allegations brought against Labour MP Kelvin Hopkins, stating that she would "cut up her membership card" if it were true that the alleged victim would be questioned by Hopkins as part of the investigation.[58]

In July 2018 it was reported that Phillips served as deputy editor of The House, the in-house Parliamentary magazine published by the Dods Group, which had been purchased by Conservative Party donor and former Tory vice-chairman Michael Ashcroft, earning a salary of £8,000 for two hours' work per month.[59]

Personal life[edit]

She is married to Tom Phillips; the couple have two sons.[6] Her husband works as Phillips' Constituency Support Manager.[60]


  1. ^ "Jess Phillips MP on Twitter". 
  2. ^ Jess Phillips [@jessphillips] (19 November 2015). "I was born in 1981" (Tweet). Retrieved 12 April 2016 – via Twitter. 
  3. ^ Jess Phillips [@jessphillips] (9 October 2016). "My mother in law came over for Birthday breakfast" (Tweet). Retrieved 9 October 2016 – via Twitter. 
  4. ^ "A new health role for Jean". Birmingham Evening Mail. 21 October 1998. Retrieved 21 January 2017. 
  5. ^ "Anger over plan to close four community hospitals". The Independent. 8 October 1997. Retrieved 13 March 2017. 
  6. ^ a b Turner, Janice (26 August 2017). "Jess Phillips: 'Labour under Corbyn feels like I've been locked out of my home'". The Times. Retrieved 27 August 2017.  (subscription required)
  7. ^ a b c d e f Cooke, Rachel (6 March 2016). "Jess Phillips: someone to believe in". The Observer. Retrieved 13 August 2016. 
  8. ^ Scott, Danny (6 March 2016). "A Life in the Day: Jess Phillips, Labour MP". The Times. London. Retrieved 9 January 2018. 
  9. ^ Sylvester, Rachel (24 September 2016). "'I will say and do as I think. My job is not to pander to Corbyn'". The Times. Retrieved 24 September 2016.  (subscription required)
  10. ^ a b c Carr, Tim; Dale, Iain (2015). The Politicos Guide to the New House of Commons 2015: Profiles of the New MPs and Analysis of the 2015 General Election Results. London: Biteback Publishing. ISBN 1849549249. 
  11. ^ Pidd, Helen (23 November 2015). "MP Jess Phillips: 'You have to be a remarkable woman to get to the top … average men get there all the time'". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 August 2016. 
  12. ^ "Sandwell Womens Aid". 
  13. ^ a b Elkes, Neil (24 June 2013). "Domestic violence campaigner Jess Phillips to take on 'love rat' John Hemming at next election". Birmingham Mail. 
  14. ^ a b Elkes, Neil (10 May 2015). "New Yardley MP Jess Phillips will not be told to 'calm down dear' by Prime Minister". Birmingham Mail. 
  15. ^ "Birmingham city council elections 2012: Full ward-by-ward results". Birmingham Mail. 3 May 2012. 
  16. ^ Authi, Jasbir (21 June 2012). "Longbridge councillor Jess Phillips be victims' champion for Birmingham". Birmingham Mail. 
  17. ^ "Jess Phillips". Labour Party. 
  18. ^ "Election 2010 – Constituency – Birmingham Yardley". BBC News Online. 
  19. ^ "Election 2015: The political battleground". BBC News Online. 
  20. ^ "Birmingham Yardley Parliamentary constituency". BBC News Online. Retrieved 7 May 2015. 
  21. ^ "Birmingham, Yardley". The Daily Telegraph. 
  22. ^ "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 28 May 2015 (pt 0003)". Hansard. 
  23. ^ Neil Elkes (14 May 2015). "New Yardley MP backs Yvette Cooper for Labour leadership". Birmingham Mail. 
  24. ^ "Who nominated who in the 2015 Labour deputy leadership election?". New Statesman. 17 June 2015. 
  25. ^ Dathan, Matt (15 September 2016). "Labour MP Jess Phillips told Diane Abbott to 'f*** off' in Jeremy Corbyn sexism row". The Independent. Retrieved 13 August 2016. 
  26. ^ Bennett, Owen (17 September 2015). "Labour MP Jess Phillips: I Told Diane Abbott To F*ck Off During Feminism Row". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 30 January 2016. 
  27. ^ Segalov, Michael (27 January 2018). "Diane Abbott: 'The abuse and the attacks have never made me falter'". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 February 2018. 
  28. ^ "Jeremy Corbyn appoints Steve Rotheram as his Parliamentary aide". The Huffington Post UK. 30 September 2015. 
  29. ^ a b Wheeler, Brian (19 November 2015). "Guide to International Men's Day". Retrieved 25 November 2016 – via 
  30. ^ a b "Philip Davies MP: 'Political correctness is damaging men'". Retrieved 25 November 2016. 
  31. ^ a b Dathan, Matt (11 November 2015). "Tory MP wins battle for International Men's Day debate in Parliament". The Independent. Retrieved 13 August 2016. 
  32. ^ Phillips, Jess (19 November 2015). "We need International Men's Day about as much as white history month, or able body action day". The Independent. Retrieved 13 August 2016. 
  33. ^ Perraudin, Frances (30 October 2015). "MPs rally in support of colleague subjected to rape threats". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 October 2015. 
  34. ^ "Labour MP Jess Phillips targeted by trolls after scoffing at men's rights debate request". ITV News. 
  35. ^ a b Perraudin, Frances (14 December 2015). "Labour MP Jess Phillips will 'knife Corbyn in the front' if he damages party". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 August 2016. 
  36. ^ Staufenberg, Jess (29 January 2016). "Jess Phillips: Labour MP says mass Cologne sex attacks on women like 'Birmingham every weekend'". The Independent. Retrieved 17 January 2017. 
  37. ^ Turner, Camilla (30 January 2016). "Labour MP faces calls to resign after comparing Cologne attacks to Birmingham night out". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2 March 2016. 
  38. ^ Perraudin, Frances. "Labour MP Jess Phillips defends remarks about Cologne sex attacks". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 January 2017. 
  39. ^ Smith, Joan (30 January 2016). "I'm a fan, Jess Phillips, but please admit you're wrong on Cologne sex attacks and violence against women". The Independent. Retrieved 2 March 2016. 
  40. ^ Phillips, Jess (7 January 2016). "Why I won't shut up about misogyny and the left". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 August 2016. 
  41. ^ McCann, Kate (8 January 2016). "Female Labour MP accuses Jeremy Corbyn of giving women 'a pat on the head'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 13 August 2016. 
  42. ^ Brown, Graeme (27 June 2016). "Jess Phillips resigns from role as rebellion continues". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 10 July 2016. 
  43. ^ Walker, Jonathan (20 July 2016). "Jess Phillips says she could resign as Labour MP if Jeremy Corbyn wins". Retrieved 7 July 2018. 
  44. ^ Oppenheim, Maya (31 May 2016). "Labour MP Jess Phillips receives '600 rape threats in one night'". The Independent. Retrieved 1 June 2016. 
  45. ^ Phillips, Jess (1 June 2016). "By ignoring the thousands of rape threats sent to me, Twitter is colluding with my abusers". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 1 June 2016. 
  46. ^ a b Phillips, Jess (19 June 2016). "Jess Phillips MP: The death of my friend Jo Cox makes me want to fight harder". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 16 August 2016. 
  47. ^ Asthana, Anushka (16 August 2016). "Labour MP Jess Phillips installing 'panic room' at office following threats". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 August 2016. 
  48. ^ Savage, Michael; Fisher, Lucy (14 September 2016). "Corbyn ally ousted in victory for rebel MPs". The Times. Retrieved 14 September 2016.  (subscription required)
  49. ^ Proctor, Kate (13 September 2016). "Labour women in fight for top job". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 14 September 2016. 
  50. ^ "Everywoman by Jess Phillips – a life less ordinary". The Guardian. 6 March 2017. 
  51. ^ "Everywoman One Woman's Truth About Speaking the Truth". Penguin Books. 23 February 2017. 
  52. ^ Demianyk, Graeme (18 April 2017). "MP Says General Election Shows Westminster Doesn't Understand People". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 3 May 2017. 
  53. ^ Elkes, Neil (24 April 2017). "General Election: It's John Hemming vs Jess Phillips in re-run of Yardley grudge match". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 3 May 2017. 
  54. ^ Elkes, Neil (9 June 2017). "Jess Phillips lays into rival John Hemming after victory". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 18 June 2017. 
  55. ^ Asthana, Anushka (6 July 2017). "Labour's female MPs vow to use Commons strength to improve lives of women". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 July 2017. 
  56. ^ Asthana, Anushka (11 July 2017). "MP Jess Phillips urges review to get more female committee chairs". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 July 2017. 
  57. ^ "MPs flock to support Labour Israel group". The Jewish Chronicle. 22 September 2016. 
  58. ^ Clark, Natasha (22 March 2018). "Labour MP threatens to quit party after it emerges woman 'abused by politician' could be quizzed by her attacker during investigation". Retrieved 7 July 2018. 
  59. ^ Hughes, Solomon (27 July 2018). "Moonlighting MPs bring Parliament into disrepute". Retrieved 29 July 2018. 
  60. ^ Walker, Jonathan (2 July 2015). "New MP Jess Phillips employs her husband as assistant in taxpayer-funded job". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 2 April 2018. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
John Hemming
Member of Parliament
for Birmingham Yardley