John Redwood

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Sir John Redwood

Official portrait of Rt Hon John Redwood MP crop 2.jpg
Shadow Secretary of State for Deregulation
In office
6 May 2005 – 5 December 2005
LeaderMichael Howard
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byPosition abolished
Shadow Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions
In office
15 June 1999 – 2 February 2000
LeaderWilliam Hague
Preceded byGillian Shephard
Succeeded byArchie Norman
Shadow Secretary of State for Trade and Industry
In office
11 June 1997 – 15 June 1999
LeaderWilliam Hague
Preceded byMichael Heseltine
Succeeded byAngela Browning
Secretary of State for Wales
In office
27 May 1993 – 26 June 1995
Prime MinisterJohn Major
Preceded byDavid Hunt
Succeeded byWilliam Hague
Minister of State for Local Government
In office
15 April 1992 – 27 May 1993
Prime MinisterJohn Major
Preceded byMichael Portillo
Succeeded byDavid Curry
Minister for Corporate Affairs
In office
26 July 1989 – 15 April 1992
Prime MinisterMargaret Thatcher
John Major
Preceded byFrancis Maude
Succeeded byNeil Hamilton
Downing Street Chief of Policy to the Prime Minister
In office
5 May 1982 – 12 November 1987
Prime MinisterMargaret Thatcher
Member of Parliament
for Wokingham
Assumed office
11 June 1987
Preceded byWilliam van Straubenzee
Majority7,383 (11.9%)
Personal details
John Alan Redwood

(1951-06-15) 15 June 1951 (age 68)
Dover, Kent, England, United Kingdom
Political partyConservative
EducationKent College, Canterbury
Alma materUniversity of Oxford (BA, DPhil)[1]

Sir John Alan Redwood (born 15 June 1951) is a British Conservative Party politician, and Member of Parliament (MP) for Wokingham in the county of Berkshire. He was formerly Secretary of State for Wales in Prime Minister John Major's Cabinet, and was twice an unsuccessful challenger for the leadership of the Conservative Party in the 1990s.

He served in the Shadow Cabinets of William Hague and Michael Howard, and has remained a backbencher since then.

Redwood is a veteran Eurosceptic who was described in 1993 as a "pragmatic Thatcherite".[2] He was the co-chairman of the Conservative Party's Policy Review Group on Economic Competitiveness until 2010. He has the role of Chief Global Strategist of investment management company Charles Stanley & Co Ltd (part of Charles Stanley Group). Redwood is a long-term critic of the European Union and of the United Kingdom's membership of the European Union. Redwood is a member of the British Eurosceptic pressure group Leave Means Leave.[3] He supported Brexit in the 2016 EU Referendum.

Early life[edit]

John Redwood was born in Dover, the second child of William Redwood (1925—2016),[4] an accountant and company secretary, and his wife, Amy Emma (née Champion), the manager of a shoe shop. He had an elder sister, Jennifer, who died as a baby in 1949.[5][6] He grew up in a council house, and describes his family buying their own house as a "big breakthrough" for the family.[7]


Redwood was educated at Kent College, Canterbury, and Magdalen College, Oxford, where he graduated BA in modern history, and in 1972 was elected a Fellow by examination of All Souls College, Oxford, which later led to a distinguished fellowship.[8] At All Souls, he wrote a DPhil thesis which investigated the fear of atheism in England, from the Restoration to the publication of Alciphron by George Berkeley. He graduated DPhil in 1975.[1][9]

Political career[edit]

He was an Oxfordshire County Councillor between 1973 and 1977, the youngest ever at the age of 21 when elected, and stood in the Peckham by-election of October 1982 where he lost to Harriet Harman.[10] From 1983 onwards, he headed up Margaret Thatcher's policy unit,[2] where he was one of the champions of privatisation.[11]

Redwood became MP for Wokingham in June 1987. Redwood was made a Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in July 1989 for Corporate Affairs at the Department of Trade and Industry. In November 1990, he was promoted to Minister of State. Redwood became Minister for Local Government and Inner Cities after the 1992 General Election, where he oversaw the abolition of the Community Charge, known as the "Poll Tax", and its replacement with the Council Tax.[12]

Redwood has voted against key LGBT rights questions, being opposed to attempts to reduce the age of consent for homosexuality in both 1994 and 1999, choosing to vote to keep Section 28 in November 2003[13][better source needed] and being generally opposed to same-sex marriage. He also voted for the reintroduction of capital punishment in 1988, 1990 and 1994. Redwood has stated since then: "I have never spoken or written against civil partnerships and gay marriage and am not proposing any change to current laws. I regard the debate about capital punishment as being over and do not support its reintroduction. I never spoke or wrote in its favour."[14][15][16]

In government[edit]

In the Government reshuffle of May 1993, Redwood was appointed to the Cabinet as Secretary of State for Wales.[17] He deferred some road-widening schemes in Wales because of suggested harm to the environment.[citation needed]

In February 1995, he was at loggerheads with the Countryside Council for Wales, because he had decided to cut its grant by 16%.[18] He also launched a scheme to provide more funding for popular schools with high numbers of applicants and concentrated extra expenditure on health and education services, away from administrative overheads.[citation needed]

Redwood consequently gained a somewhat haughty reputation with apparent disregard for national feeling; this did not endear him further to some of the population,[19] including when he returned £100 million of Wales's block grant to the Treasury unspent in 1995.[20] Redwood committed a memorable gaffe in 1993, when he attempted to mime to the Welsh national anthem at the Welsh Conservative Party conference, when he clearly did not know the words.[21] Redwood subsequently learned the anthem but, in August 2007, an unconnected news story on Redwood was illustrated with the same clip. This resulted in Conservative activists filing complaints, and as a result the BBC apologised to Redwood for airing the dated footage.[22]

Leadership contests and subsequent career[edit]

When John Major called upon his critics to "put up or shut up" and tendered his resignation to allow for a leadership challenge, Redwood resigned from the Cabinet, and stood against Major in the subsequent party leadership election on 26 June 1995.[23] In the ballot held on 4 July 1995, Redwood received 89 votes, around a quarter of the then Parliamentary Party. Major received 218 votes, or two thirds of the parliamentary party vote. The newspaper The Sun had declared its support for Redwood in the run up to the leadership contest, running the front page headline "Redwood versus Deadwood".[24]

When Major resigned as party leader after the General Election defeat of May 1997, Redwood stood in the resulting election for the leadership, and was again defeated. After being defeated in the third round with 38 votes to Kenneth Clarke's 64 and William Hague's 62, Redwood surprisingly backed Clarke against Hague.[25]

Redwood was subsequently appointed Shadow Secretary of State for Trade and Industry by the victorious William Hague. He was appointed Shadow Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions in June 1999,[26] but was dropped in a mini reshuffle in February 2000, being succeeded by Archie Norman.

Under Michael Howard, he was appointed Shadow Secretary of State for Deregulation.[27]


Redwood is a veteran Eurosceptic.[28] A critic of the Euro before its launch, in 2011 Redwood suggested that the Eurozone should "break up", and proposed that the United Kingdom should give up its Council voting rights in return for the ability to opt out of any EU legislation.[29] There are no existing laws that would permit such an arrangement, as it would make European law not apply evenly across the Union as a whole. Later that year, he joined 81 rebel Conservative MPs in voting for an in-out referendum for leaving the European Union, saying afterwards "People used to call me an extreme Eurosceptic. Now I’m a moderate."[28] Before the Brexit referendum, Redwood wrote that, to Conservative Eurosceptics like him, leaving the EU was "more important than which party wins the next election or who is the prime minister."[30]

Since then, he has suggested the United Kingdom need not prioritise a post-Brexit deal with the EU, and received criticism for writing an investment advice column which recommended investors "look further afield" than the United Kingdom. Redwood denied this interpretation, saying that he simply advises investors of where international markets are heading and did not write an investment column "recommending investors pull their money out of the United Kingdom".[31][32]

Less than a month after the referendum, Redwood predicted that getting out of the EU can be quick and easy since the UK "holds most of the cards in any negotiation."[33]

In statements to media and in the House of Commons, Redwood has consistently defended the position that the UK should not pay the so called Brexit bill (amounting to around £39 billion).[34] This is in line with a House of Lords EU financial affairs committee report,[35] which itself is contested on its legal soundness since the financial settlement simply reflects commitments already entered into by the UK under the EU's multi-annual financial framework for the years 2014–2020 and therefore is not linked to the process of the UK leaving the European Union.[36][37]

Public image[edit]

He has often been compared to a Vulcan, a comparison originally made by Matthew Parris, due to his physical appearance and intonation,[2] a preference for making arguments with logic over passion[7] and a perception for being cold and humourless.[38]


Business career[edit]

Redwood worked as an investment analyst, manager and director for Robert Fleming and for NM Rothschild in the 1970s and 1980s.[41] In 2007 he co-founded Evercore Pan-Asset Capital Management Ltd, a financial management company, which was subsequently sold to Charles Stanley.[42] He is currently Chief Global Strategist at Charles Stanley & Co Ltd.[43] He was previously a non-executive chairman of Mabey Securities, an investment arm of the engineering firm Mabey.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

He married Gail Felicity Chippington, a barrister, on 20 April 1974 in Chipping Norton; they had two children, Catherine (born 1978) and Richard (born 1982). The marriage broke down after 28 years, and they divorced a year later in July 2003.[44][45][46]

In the media[edit]

Redwood was interviewed about the rise of Thatcherism for the BBC television documentary series of 2006, Tory! Tory! Tory!,[47] and has often appeared on television, including appearances on the BBC's Question Time.[48]


  • I Don't Like Politics: But I Want to Make a Difference. Politico's Publishing. October 2006. ISBN 978-1-84275-182-4.
  • Singing the Blues: 30 Years Of Tory Civil War. Politico's Publishing. October 2004. ISBN 978-1-84275-076-6.
  • Just Say No!: 100 Arguments Against the Euro. Politico's Publishing. July 2001. ISBN 978-1-902301-99-0.
  • Stars and Strife: The Coming Conflict Between the USA and the European Union. Palgrave Macmillan. February 2001. ISBN 978-0-333-91841-8.
  • The Death of Britain?. Palgrave Macmillan. May 1999. ISBN 978-0-333-74439-0.
  • Our Currency, Our Country: Dangers of European Monetary Union. Penguin Books. March 1997. ISBN 978-0-14-026523-1.
  • Public Enterprise in Crisis: Future of Nationalized Industries. Blackwell Publishers. November 1980. ISBN 978-0631125822.
  • Reason, Ridicule and Religion: The Age of Enlightenment in England 1660–1750. Thames and Hudson. 1976. ISBN 0-500-27885-7


  1. ^ a b Redwood, John Alan (1975). The Fear of Atheism in England, from the Restoration to Berkeley's Alciphron. (DPhil thesis). University of Oxford. OCLC 43141408. EThOS
  2. ^ a b c Macintyre, Donald (10 July 1993). "Profile: Vulcan in the House: John Redwood – He has enemies in the party, but even they defer to his razor-sharp mind, writes Donald Macintyre". The Independent. Retrieved 13 November 2017.
  3. ^ "Co-Chairmen – Political Advisory Board – Supporters". Leave Means Leave. Archived from the original on 24 October 2017. Retrieved 14 December 2017.
  4. ^ "The death of William Redwood".
  5. ^ "FreeBMD – Search".
  6. ^ Deaths – England and Wales – July, August and September 1949
  7. ^ a b Davies, Ben (1 October 2004). "Interview: John Redwood". BBC. Retrieved 14 November 2017.
  8. ^ "All Souls College Oxford". Retrieved 15 October 2016.
  9. ^ "About". Retrieved 15 October 2016.
  10. ^ "Sheila Faith – obituary". The Daily Telegraph. 16 October 2014. Retrieved 22 October 2014.
  11. ^ "John Redwood". BBC News. 16 October 2002. Retrieved 14 November 2017.
  12. ^ Local Government Review, Vol. 156, Part 1 (Justice of the Peace Ltd, 1992), p. 400
  13. ^ "John Redwood". Retrieved on 23 November 2015.
  14. ^ "John Redwood". Retrieved on 23 November 2015. John Redwood's Diary 17 February 2018 www.
  15. ^ "Leading Article: John Redwood's hasty credo". The Independent. 23 October 2011. Retrieved on 23 November 2015.
  16. ^ Nigel Farndale (12 November 2006). "Say no to gallows humour". Retrieved on 23 November 2015. John Redwood's Diary 17 February 2018 www.
  17. ^ Chris Cook, John Stevenson, eds., Longman Companion to Britain Since 1945 (2014), p. 121
  18. ^ Lean, Geoffrey (19 February 1995). "Greens attack Redwood policies". The Independent. London.
  19. ^ Cohen, Nick (2 July 1995). "The principality of Redwood". The Independent. Retrieved 10 March 2018.
  20. ^ "Labour scorns Tory no confidence threat". BBC News. Retrieved on 23 November 2015.
  21. ^ Lauren Niland. "Rick Perry's predecessors: when politicians forget". The Guardian. Retrieved on 23 November 2015.
  22. ^ "BBC: We were wrong to mock John Redwood". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 24 September 2013.
  23. ^ "Conservative Party Leadership Election 1995". BBC. 1997. Retrieved 13 November 2017.
  24. ^ Macintyre, Donald; Brown, Colin (27 June 1995). "PM assails 'malcontent' Redwood". The Independent. London.
  25. ^ "John Redwood". BBC News. 1997. Retrieved 13 November 2017.
  26. ^ The Hutchinson Almanac (Helicon Publishing, 2000), p. 63
  27. ^ Woolf, Marie (2 September 2004). "John Redwood: He's back as Red-Tape Man, the unlikeliest sex symbol in the universe". The Independent. Retrieved 13 November 2017.
  28. ^ a b "Making the break". Economist. 8 December 2012. Retrieved 13 November 2017.
  29. ^ Redwood, John. "Let's give up our EU veto and opt out instead". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 13 November 2017.
  30. ^ Redwood, John (26 May 2016). "A vote to remain in the EU won't be the last we hear of Brexit". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 November 2017.
  31. ^ Elgot, Jessica (13 November 2017). "John Redwood criticised over advice to pull money out of UK". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 November 2017.
  32. ^ Coppola, Frances (12 November 2017). "British Lawmaker Advises Investors To Take Their Money Out Of The UK". Forbes. Retrieved 14 November 2017. John Redwood's Diary 17 February 2018 www.
  33. ^ "Getting out of the EU can be quick and easy – the UK holds most of the cards in any negotiation". 17 July 2016. Retrieved 23 January 2019.
  34. ^ Hunt, Darren (19 November 2018). "Greedy EU: Brexiteer MP warns 'rich western European countries' should NOT be given £39bn". Daily Express. Retrieved 19 November 2018.
  35. ^ Rankin, Jennifer (4 March 2017). "Brexit: UK could quit EU without paying a penny, say Lords". Guardian online. Retrieved 23 November 2018.
  36. ^ "Brexit divorce bill explained: Why the UK needs to pay the EU to leave". 21 November 2017. Retrieved 23 January 2019.
  37. ^ "The financial cost to the UK of leaving the EU | The Centre for Business Research blog". 30 March 2017. Retrieved 23 January 2019.
  38. ^ "John Redwood". British Broadcasting Corporation, 'Politics 97'. 1997. Retrieved 12 November 2015.
  39. ^ "New Year's Honours list: John Redwood one of 3 MPs awarded knighthood". 28 December 2018. Retrieved 23 January 2019.
  40. ^ "No. 62507". The London Gazette (1st supplement). 28 December 2018. p. N2.
  41. ^ "John Redwood". Financial Times. Retrieved 11 June 2018.
  42. ^ Hosking, Patricia (15 November 2013). "Wealth group makes John Redwood richer". The Times. Retrieved 14 November 2017.
  43. ^ "John Redwood takes an optimistic view on the markets" (video). Charles Stanley & Co. Limited. 2 February 2017. Retrieved 11 June 2018.
  44. ^ Brown, Colin (27 July 2003). "Redwood leaves his wife for former model Nikki Page". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
  45. ^ Kite, Melissa (15 February 2004). "Redwood comes out fighting against ex-wife". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
  46. ^ Hencke, David (28 March 2005). "Redwood's ex-wife debunks Vulcan jibe". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 September 2013.
  47. ^ Patricia Holland, Broadcasting and the NHS in the Thatcherite 1980s (2013), pp. 137–138
  48. ^ Matthew Parris, Chance Witness: An Outsider's Life in Politics (2013), pp. 432–437

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
William van Straubenzee
Member of Parliament
for Wokingham

Political offices
Preceded by
David Hunt
Secretary of State for Wales
Succeeded by
William Hague
Preceded by
Michael Heseltine
Shadow Secretary of State for Trade and Industry
Succeeded by
Angela Browning
Preceded by
Gillian Shephard
Shadow Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions
Succeeded by
Archie Norman
New office Shadow Secretary of State for Deregulation
Position abolished