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Mark Pritchard (politician)

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Mark Pritchard
Official portrait of Mark Pritchard crop 2.jpg
Member of Parliament
for The Wrekin
Assumed office
5 May 2005
Preceded by Peter Bradley
Majority 9,564 (19.3%)
Councillor (Harrow London Borough Council)
In office
Councillor (Woking Borough Council)
In office
Personal details
Born (1966-11-22) 22 November 1966 (age 51)
Nationality British
Political party Conservative
Alma mater London Guildhall University

Mark Andrew Pritchard (born 22 November 1966) is a British Conservative politician. He has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for The Wrekin in Shropshire since the 2005 general election.

Born in Herefordshire, he was brought up in an orphanage and later in foster care in a council house. He worked as a Conservative councillor on Harrow London Borough Council and later Woking Borough Council, as well as at Conservative Central Office. He was first elected as MP for the Wrekin in 2005 and has served on the Transport, Works & Pensions, Wales, and Environmental Audit select committees.

Early and professional life[edit]

Pritchard was brought up and educated in Herefordshire.[1] He remarked on BBC Radio 4 that he comes from an "unorthodox background" for a Conservative MP. For the first five years of his life he was brought up in an orphanage in Hereford,[2] and later grew up in foster care living in a council house. He told his local newspaper that his early years were years of "love and warmth" and that he did not have "a single bad memory" of his time in the orphanage.[3]

Political career[edit]


Pritchard began his political career as a Conservative councillor on Harrow London Borough Council between 1993-1994.[4] A supporter of Margaret Thatcher, Pritchard worked as the campaign manager to her successor in the London seat of Finchley, Hartley Booth.[5] Booth worked in the Number 10 policy unit before entering parliament (May 1992 – 1997). He also spent a brief period at Conservative Central Office, working as a press officer, in the 1997 General Election campaign. He then served as a Conservative councillor on Woking Borough Council between 2000–2003.[4][6] In the 2001 general election, Pritchard stood as the Conservative candidate for Warley in the West Midlands where he was defeated by John Spellar of the Labour party.[7][8]


Pritchard was first elected to parliament for The Wrekin constituency in 2005, defeating Peter Bradley, the incumbent Labour MP, by just 942 votes although this represented a 5.4% swing from Labour to Conservative.[9][10] He was one of 130 candidates who received help from 20,000 countryside campaigners from the Countryside Party who "poured into marginal seats all over Britain" in an attempt to unseat anti-hunting Labour MPs.[11] During the campaign pro-hunt supporters "delivered 3.4 million leaflets, addressed 2.1 million envelopes, put up 55,000 posters and provided 170,000 hours of campaigning."[11] Pritchard was also one of 30 Conservative MPs who benefited from large "below the radar" donations paid to candidates from a secret Conservative Party donors' fund set up by Lord Ashcroft, Lord Steinberg and the Midlands Industrial Council.[12][13]

After retaining his seat at the 2010 general election,[14] he was joint secretary of the 1922 Committee between 2010-2012.[15][16][17]

Pritchard was at the centre of a political story in 2010 when he had a public confrontation with John Bercow, the Speaker of the House of Commons, who had told him to stand aside in a corridor. Pritchard then told him, "You are not fucking royalty, Mr Speaker!" This slogan soon found itself on T-shirts.[18]

Pritchard was appointed by Prime Minister David Cameron as a member of the Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy 2010-2015.[19] He is a member of the UK delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.[20] He was a Member of the House of Commons Joint Committee on Human Rights 2015-2017.[21]

He is a graduate of the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme (Army).[22] He has visited Iraq and Afghanistan.[23]

Pritchard was appointed to the post of deputy chairman of the Conservative Party's International Office in 2010 but resigned in January 2012 over policy differences on: "a lack of national and individual aspiration, immigration, and Europe"[24] - what some commentators called "the Holy Trinity of the Conservative right".[25]

Regarded as right of centre, Pritchard nonetheless was one of the first advocates of compassionate conservatism in the United Kingdom and has vocally supported the coalition government's policy of increased spending on international aid.[26] He believes in tougher sentences for criminals – but has also supported the coalition government's efforts to increase the number of treatment and rehabilitation centres. He is on record as saying he would not support the restoration of the death penalty.

He is the vice-chairman of the Conservative Parliamentary Foreign Affairs & Defence Committee. He formerly served as 'backbench support' to William Hague and to Dr Liam Fox, the former Defence Secretary, whilst in opposition. UK newspapers reported that Pritchard was to be offered the position of Parliamentary Private Secretary to Dr Liam Fox, but the appointment was vetoed by David Cameron. Pritchard was one of the most vocal supporters of Cameron's leadership rival, David Davis MP.

Pritchard has served on several select committees: Transport, Works & Pensions, Wales, and Environmental Audit.[5] He is chairman or vice-chairman of several all-party parliamentary groups, including the ASEAN region, and Africa.[27] Pritchard is also an executive member of the British Parliamentary Group.

In 2015, Pritchard succeeded Michael Connarty MP as the joint-chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Jazz Appreciation Group [28]

Pritchard, under his previous name Mallon, co-wrote a book with Booth on the subject of long-term unemployment and homelessness.[29]

Pritchard was named as one of London's 1,000 most influential people by the London Evening Standard in 2011.[30]

Political positions[edit]

Pritchard's main political contributions focus on defence, foreign affairs, counter-terrorism, home affairs, pro-life and animal welfare issues.[31]

Animal welfare[edit]

Pritchard is known for his advocacy of animal welfare issues and introduced three animal welfare related private Ten Minute Rule Bills in the period 2006–09. These were the Sale of Endangered Animals on the Internet (Prohibition) Bill, 2006;[32] Primates As Pets (Prohibition) Bill, 2007[33] and the Common Birds (Protection) Bill, 2009.[34]

In June 2011 he successfully moved a motion to ban wild animals in circuses. In the House of Commons he stated that he had been placed under pressure by the prime minister to withdraw the motion, first by being offered a job, and then by being threatened.[35][36]

Pritchard has been nominated for numerous animal welfare awards including the Dods Charity Champion Award for Animal Welfare.[37]


Pritchard is a Eurosceptic, defining himself as a "mainstream Eurosceptic".[38] He was one of the "Tory Rebels" who oversaw the largest post-war defeat of any Conservative government concerning a European Referendum.[39] He has called for an "in/out referendum" on the European Union. Central to Pritchard's argument is that "The majority of Britons living today have never had a say on Europe", what Pritchard refers to as "the great disenfranchised".[40]

Pritchard supported the motion calling for a "real terms cut" in the EU's multi-annual budget in 2012.[41] He was joined by fellow Eurosceptic MP, Mark Reckless, to draft the so-called ‘Reckless-Pritchard amendment’ which saw David Cameron's government defeated over the issue.[42] Reckless later defected to Ukip.

Pritchard claimed that the vote would "strengthen David Cameron's hand in Brussels". During the EU budget debate in the House of Commons he said: "One way in which the Prime Minister’s hand can be strengthened is by having a united parliament rather than a disunited parliament when he goes to Brussels to negotiate on my birthday, 22 November."[43]

Pritchard has also been outspoken on immigration issues, being one of the co-signatories of an amendment calling for the extension UK border controls for Romanians and Bulgarians beyond January 1, 2014. He also held a debate on the issue in April 2013.[44]

Contrary to his previous Eurosceptic claims and despite being one of the ring leaders of the so-called 81 rebellion, on 31 January 2016, he declared himself a "reluctant inner", supporting Britain's membership of the EU.[45] In the 2016 referendum on the UK's membership of the EU Mr Pritchard campaigned for a Remain vote, writing that "in an increasingly global marketplace EU migration allows Britain’s economy to grow and prosper. There is a positive case to be made for EU migration, something thus far missing from the referendum debate".[46] He set out a number of security and foreign policy concerns in a Sunday Times article.[47] He attracted criticism and praise alike.

He is a member of the British delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, a 47-nation body - separate to the EU - which upholds human rights, democracy and the rule of law.[48]

In 2017 Prime Minister Theresa May appointed him as the UK's first Trade Envoy to Georgia and Armenia working with the Department for International Trade.[49]

Coalition government[edit]

Pritchard expressed concerns over rumours that the coalition government was planning to field coalition candidates in the next general election, branding those responsible as "The Purple Plotters".[50]


Pritchard is registered as the vice-chairman of the all-party parliamentary Pro-Life Group.[51] He was the mover of an amendment to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 in the 2005–2010 parliament, which sought to reduce the term-limit for abortions from 24 weeks to 16 weeks.[52]


Pritchard was opposed to Brexit prior to the 2016 referendum.[53]

Personal life[edit]

In July 2013, Mark Pritchard announced that he was divorcing his wife of 15 years, Sondra, following their separation in April 2013.[54] In May 2017 he married Tamuna Kapanadze, a Georgian citizen, and a former Georgian Deputy Ambassador to the United Kingdom and former Head of Georgian Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze's Secretariat in St Mary's Undercroft in the Palace of Westminster with a joint Anglican and Orthodox wedding ceremony.[55]

In December 2014, he was arrested and later bailed over an allegation of rape,[56][57] but on 6 January 2015 the police inquiry was dropped on the basis that there was insufficient evidence for a case to proceed.[58] Pritchard urged a review of the law on anonymity for people accused of rape, saying that it was unfair that he was publicly identified whilst his accuser remained anonymous.[59]

Pritchard's hobbies include tennis, he is Vice Chairman of the Parliamentary Tennis Group, writing on socio-economic and foreign policy issues, and comedy and satire. In his youth he played football and in 1988 played for Hereford United Reserves, his home city team. At 50 he still plays for the parliamentary football team.[60]


  1. ^ "About Mark Pritchard, MP". Retrieved 3 March 2012. 
  2. ^ Murphy, Joe. "Evening Standard Interview". Evening Standard. Retrieved 24 August 2012. 
  3. ^ "Mark his Words". The House Magazine. 16 May 2013. 
  4. ^ a b "Mark Pritchard". The Conservative Party. Archived from the original on 3 December 2013. Retrieved 22 November 2013. 
  5. ^ a b Who's Who 2009. London: A & C Black. 2008. p. 1895. ISBN 978-1-4081-0248-0. 
  6. ^ "MP caught up in Zurich rioting". Evening Mail. Birmingham. 30 January 2001. p. 9. 
  7. ^ "Election 2001: Nominations around the Midlands". Evening Mail. Birmingham. 25 May 2001. p. 6. 
  8. ^ "Election 2001: Better public services 'mean higher taxes'". Birmingham Post. Birmingham. 8 June 2001. p. 3. 
  9. ^ "GENERAL ELECTION: 8-page results guide - How the nation voted". London Evening Standard. London. 6 May 2005. p. 45. 
  10. ^ Thorne, Alun (7 May 2005). "ELECTION 2005: Blair not the lad for Shropshire". Birmingham Post. Birmingham. p. 2. 
  11. ^ a b Kite, Melissa (8 May 2005). "Hunt supporters thanked for role in ousting Bradley". The Sunday Telegraph. London. p. 6. Retrieved 22 November 2013. 
  12. ^ Hencke, David (10 May 2005). "After the election: Secret Tory fund helped win marginals". The Guardian. London. p. 5. Retrieved 22 November 2013. 
  13. ^ Hencke, David (27 September 2005). "Tories must return £2.5m to donor after leader election". The Guardian. London. p. 6. Retrieved 22 November 2013. 
  14. ^ "UK Polling Report". UK Polling. 
  15. ^ Pritchard, Mark (19 September 2011). "We're fed up with Europe, so give us a vote". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 22 November 2013. 
  16. ^ Goodman, Paul (9 March 2012). "The 1922 committee: a clash of culture looms". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 22 November 2013. 
  17. ^ Grice, Andrew (6 November 2013). "Mark Pritchard investigation: New allegations fuel debate on MPs' jobs on the side". The Independent. London. Retrieved 22 November 2013. 
  18. ^ "Mr Pritchard stands up to Mr Speaker". The Waugh Room. PoliticsHome. Retrieved 3 March 2012. 
  19. ^ "Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy – membership". UK Parliament. Retrieved 17 September 2012. 
  20. ^ "Membership of the UK Delegation". UK Parliament. 
  21. ^ "About Mark". Personal Website. 
  22. ^ "Mark Pritchard: Member of Parliament for The Wrekin". The Conservative Party. 
  23. ^ "MP praises bravery of British troops". 5 February 2007. 
  24. ^ Pritchard, Mark (6 March 2012). "David Cameron's weakness on Europe forced me to resign from Conservative Party job". The Daily Telegraph. London. 
  25. ^ Goodman, Paul (9 March 2012). "The 1922 committee: a clash of culture looms". The Guardian. London. 
  26. ^ Pritchard, Mark. "Mark Pritchard MP: The Government is right to protect the International Aid budget". 
  27. ^ "UK Parliament – APPG Register". UK Parliament. 
  28. ^ "UK Parliament – APPG Jazz Appreciation". UK Parliament. 
  29. ^ Mallon, Mark; Booth, Hartley (1994). Return ticket : one hundred and one stories of long-term unemployed people who successfully made the journey back to work. ISBN 1852911239. OCLC 45337854. 
  30. ^ "London's 1000 most influential people 2011: Politics". London Evening Standard. 7 November 2011. 
  31. ^ "Profile". 
  32. ^ "Trade in Endangered Animals on the Internet". UK Parliament. 
  33. ^ "Trading of Primates as Pets (Prohibition)". UK Parliament. 
  34. ^ "Wild Birds (Protection)". UK Parliament. 
  35. ^ "MPs defy ministers and back ban on wild circus animals". BBC News. 24 June 2011. 
  36. ^ Patel, Sunita (24 June 2011). "Wrekin MP Mark Pritchard in Commons bribe row". Shropshire Star. Retrieved 3 March 2012. 
  37. ^ "Dods Charity Champion Awards". Dods Parliamentary Communications Ltd 2012. 
  38. ^ "The Deep Eurosceptic Links in Almost Every Government Department". 20 October 2011. Retrieved 3 March 2012. 
  39. ^ Grice, Andrew (2 November 2011). "Tory rebels form new Eurosceptic group". The Independent. London. 
  40. ^ "Europe referendum 'is a chance to enfranchise voters'". The Daily Telegraph. London. 24 October 2011. 
  41. ^ "Shropshire MP Mark Pritchard joining rebellion on EU Talks". Shropshire Star. 31 October 2012. 
  42. ^ Hardman, Elizabeth. "Cameron outfoxed from right and left on EU budget". The Spectator. 
  43. ^ Parliament. "Hansard, 31 Oct 2012 : Column 300". Hansard. 
  44. ^ "News Article". Shropshire Star. 
  45. ^ MP, Mark Pritchard (31 January 2016). "Today I 'came out for staying in'. There will be many Eurosceptics, who like me, are 'reluctant inners'. EU needs UK more than UK needs EU!". 
  46. ^ (2016-06-10). "Mark Pritchard MP: A vote for Remain is a vote for jobs". Retrieved 2016-06-23. 
  47. ^ "Britain is safer in the European Union". Sunday Times. 31 January 2016. 
  48. ^ "Personal page on the website of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe". Retrieved 12 May 2016. 
  49. ^ "Trade envoys". Retrieved 15 Sep 2017. 
  50. ^ Montgomerie, Tim (1 January 2011). "Mark Pritchard MP warns 'purple plotters' against a "Frankenstein" merger of the Conservatives and Lib Dems The Tory Diary". Retrieved 19 August 2013. 
  51. ^ "APPG Register". UK Parliament. 
  52. ^ "Hansard 20 May 2008 : Column 232". UK Parliament. 
  53. ^ Goodenough, Tom (16 February 2016). "Which Tory MPs back Brexit, who doesn't and who is still on the fence?". The Spectator. Retrieved 11 October 2016. 
  54. ^ "Divorce of Tory MP Mark Pritchard adds to toll of Westminster". The Times. 25 July 2013. Retrieved 19 August 2013. 
  55. ^ "General Election 2017: Conservatives hold Shropshire seats". BBC News. 9 June 2017. Retrieved 10 August 2017. 
  56. ^ Halliday, Josh; Siddique, Haroon (4 December 2014). "Conservative MP Mark Pritchard arrested over alleged rape". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 December 2014. 
  57. ^ "Tory MP Mark Pritchard arrested". BBC News. 4 December 2014. Retrieved 4 December 2014. 
  58. ^ "Live: MP Mark Pritchard news briefing". 6 January 2015 – via 
  59. ^ "BBC News". BBC News. BBC. 6 Jan 2015. Retrieved 6 Jan 2015. 
  60. ^ "About Mark Pritchard". Retrieved 8 August 2017. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Peter Bradley
Member of Parliament for The Wrekin