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Rob Wilson

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For other people named Robert Wilson, see Robert Wilson (disambiguation).
Robert Wilson
Minister for Civil Society
Assumed office
27 September 2014
Prime Minister David Cameron
Theresa May
Preceded by Brooks Newmark
Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Chancellor of the Exchequer
In office
7 October 2013 – 18 July 2014
Prime Minister David Cameron
Chancellor George Osborne
Preceded by Amber Rudd
Succeeded by Robert Halfon
Member of Parliament
for Reading East
Assumed office
5 May 2005
Preceded by Jane Griffiths
Majority 7,605 (15.2%)
Personal details
Born (1965-01-04) 4 January 1965 (age 51)
Wallingford, England
Political party Social Democratic Party (Before 1988)
Conservative (1988–present)
Alma mater University of Reading
Website Official website

Robert Owen Biggs Wilson[1] (born 4 January 1965) is a United Kingdom politician and political author. He was elected Conservative Member of Parliament for the Reading East parliamentary constituency in the 2005 general election, being re-elected in the elections of 2010 and 2015. He became Minister for Civil Society in the Cabinet Office on 27 September 2014.

Early life

Wilson was born and brought up in south Oxfordshire. He attended Wallingford School and then, between 1984 and 1988, the University of Reading, where he studied history. He spent his final year at university as the President of the Reading University Students' Union. Wilson was a member of the Social Democratic Party.[2][3][4]


Local government

Wilson joined the Conservatives, and was elected as one of three councillors for Thames Ward of Reading Borough Council in 1992, serving one term (until 1996).[5] In 1997, he unsuccessfully contested Bolton North East at that years general election.[5]

In 2003 he was elected for the Caversham Ward of Reading Borough Council, in a by-election for a one-year term. The following year, he was again elected a councillor for Thames ward. Following his election as Member of Parliament, he stood down from the Council in May 2006.[5]

MP in the 2005–2010 parliament

Wilson was selected as the Conservative parliamentary candidate for Reading East using a pioneering primary system, which opened the selection to non-party members for the first time. At the 2005 General Election he faced the Labour candidate and councillor, Tony Page.[6] Page had replaced sitting MP, Labour's Jane Griffiths, who had been de-selected by her party.[6] Wilson won 15,557 votes (35.4%) against Page's 15,082 votes (34.3%).[7] The Conservative share of the vote increased by 3.4%.[2][7]

After his election Wilson served on the Education and Skills Select Committee, selected by the committee chair. Here he played a role in the committee stage of the Education and Inspections Bill, on issues such as Special Educational Needs.[5] In July 2007 Wilson was promoted to the Conservative frontbench as Shadow Higher Education Minister replacing Boris Johnson.[5]

The MP, during his terms of office, promoted a major anti knife-crime campaign of Reading's papers; to do so meeting with crime victims' families and Thames Valley Police. Wilson successfully lobbied the DfT, Network Rail and local council to secure funding for the expansion and increase in facilities at Reading railway station – associated with investment into high rise and mid rise offices, retail and hotels in Reading. He jointly with former Labour MP Martin Salter successfully lobbied for the extension of Crossrail services to and from Reading, providing direct trains to much of Central London, and western parts of Essex and Kent.[8]

MP in the 2010–2015 parliament

On 6 May 2010, Wilson was re-elected by the people of Reading East with a majority of 15.2% of those who voted and 42.6% of the vote. In the resulting Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government from May 2010 the Liberal Democrats shared in ministerial positions. Wilson was among Shadow Ministers in the previous Parliament that were not offered a position as a Minister in coalition. In 2010 he was appointed Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Jeremy Hunt MP.[5]

In July 2014 the MP stated that he would have accepted an undisclosed ministerial position but wished to use his spare time to publish a book on the scandals involving former MP Chris Huhne (who perverted the course of justice by lying about driving too fast to keep his driving licence) and the Chief Whip's plebgate incident each of which meant they lost their ministerial positions.[9] He had earlier been offered a position as a junior government whip but refused this as still writing the same book.[9] Critics, unnamed in a BBC interview with Wilson, attributed his decision to decline a promotion to their perception that the Conservative Party was likely to lose both of its Reading seats and said that in writing this sort of polemic, the government may prefer not to promote Wilson.[9]

The Prime Minister's office appointed Wilson to the government as a minister on 27 September 2014, following the resignation of Brooks Newmark following allegations in Daily Mirror that Newmark had sent sexually explicit images to an undercover reporter[10][11] He became the Minister for Civil Society which entails charities, volunteering and social enterprise, which he accepted a month after finishing the book, which he assessed as incompatible with being in a senior government or opposition role.

MP in the 2015 parliament

On 8 May 2015, Wilson was again re-elected by the people of Reading East, with 23,217 votes and a majority of 6,520, compared to 7,605 in 2010.[12]


Shortly after retaining his seat in the 2015 general election, Wilson sparked controversy with a remark on Twitter in which he seemed to show an utter lack of interest in solving his constituency's rising homelessness problem, as when asked about how his party's cuts would help solve it, he responded with "Don't be a bad loser."[13] This sparked considerable outrage online, and even resulted in a petition on 38 Degrees to have him removed from office, which currently has over 5000 signatures.[14][15]

In July 2015 he was forced to defend his claims for travel expenses, which included 9p for a 352-yard car journey to a constituency event and 60p for a journey on his bicycle between his constituency office, the railway station and home. He said that putting such small costs on expenses might seem "odd", but said that over a year mileage "does add up". He pointed out he had not claimed any accommodation expenses in London since becoming an MP in 2005, saving taxpayers "hundreds of thousands of pounds. However, as I do commute most days it does mean I incur parking and mileage expenses instead".[16]


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b "Reading East". Reading Chronicle. Retrieved 18 August 2010. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Rob Wilson MP". UK Government. Retrieved 17 June 2015. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f "Robert Wilson". Parliament of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 18 August 2010. 
  6. ^ a b "Labour kicked out of Reading East". BBC News Online. 6 May 2005. Retrieved 18 August 2010. 
  7. ^ a b "Result: Reading East". BBC News Online. 6 May 2005. Retrieved 18 August 2010. 
  8. ^ Opinion: Rob Wilson MP: It is welcome news Crossrail is coming to Reading 27 March 2014 published online at Original published in the Reading Chronicle paper version. Retrieved 29 November 2014.
  9. ^ a b c Reading MP Rob Wilson turns down minister's job BBC News. Retrieved 29 November 2014
  10. ^ Brooks Newmark resigns: Minister caught in sex sting to quit as MP over new scandal
  11. ^ Tim Ross "Conservative minister resigns over sex scandal", The Telegraph, 27 September 2014
  12. ^ Fort, Linda (8 May 2015). "Rob Wilson holds Reading East for Tories". GetReading. Trinity Mirror Southern. Retrieved 8 May 2015. 
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ "MP Rob Wilson defends 9p car journey claim". BBC News. 21 July 2015. Retrieved 21 July 2015. 

Further reading

  • Wilson, Rob (2010). 5 Days to Power. Biteback. ISBN 978-1849540810. 
  • Wilson, Rob (2014). The Eye of the Storm: The View from the Centre of the Political Scandal. Biteback. ISBN 9781849545013. 

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Jane Griffiths
Member of Parliament for Reading East