Theresa Villiers

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The Right Honourable
Theresa Villiers
Theresa Villiers Official.jpg
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
In office
4 September 2012 – 14 July 2016
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Owen Paterson
Succeeded by James Brokenshire
Minister of State for Transport
In office
13 May 2010 – 4 September 2012
Prime Minister David Cameron
Sec. of State Hammond, Greening
Preceded by Sadiq Khan
Succeeded by Simon Burns
Shadow Secretary of State for Transport
In office
2 July 2007 – 11 May 2010
Leader David Cameron
Preceded by Chris Grayling
Succeeded by Sadiq Khan
Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury
In office
6 December 2005 – 2 July 2007
Leader David Cameron
Preceded by Philip Hammond
Succeeded by Philip Hammond
Member of Parliament
for Chipping Barnet
Assumed office
5 May 2005
Preceded by Sydney Chapman
Majority 7,656 (14.4%)
Member of the European Parliament
for London
In office
15 July 1999 – 5 May 2005
Preceded by Constituency established
Succeeded by Syed Kamall
Personal details
Born Theresa Anne Villiers
(1968-03-05) 5 March 1968 (age 48)
London, England, UK
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Sean Wilken (Divorced)
Alma mater University of Bristol
Jesus College, Oxford
City Law School
Website Official website

Theresa Anne Villiers (pronounced Villers; born 5 March 1968 in London) is a British Conservative Party politician and a member of the aristocratic Villiers family.

She has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Chipping Barnet since 2005. She was the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland from 2012 to 2016.[1][2][3]

Early life[edit]

Villiers was born in Chiswick in 1968, the third child of Major George Edward Villiers by his marriage to Anne Virginia Threlfall; she has two elder brothers, Edward and Henry.[4] On her father's side she is a descendant of Edward Ernest Villiers (1806–1843), brother of George Villiers, 4th Earl of Clarendon, Thomas Hyde Villiers, Charles Pelham Villiers, and Henry Montagu Villiers.[5]

Growing up in North London, she was educated at the independent Francis Holland School. Villiers gained a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree with first-class honours in 1990 from the University of Bristol, and a year later the postgraduate degree of Bachelor of Civil Law (BCL) from Jesus College, Oxford.[citation needed]

After university she qualified for the bar at the Inner Temple, and worked as a lecturer at King's College London from 1994 until 1999.[citation needed]

Member of the European Parliament[edit]

Villiers was elected as a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for the London constituency in 1999, and was re-elected in 2004. She stood down after the 2005 general election when she was elected as the Member of Parliament (UK) (MP) for Chipping Barnet.[6]

As an MEP, her main interests were finance and financial services, the preservation of London's green belt, Cyprus, animal welfare and campaigning against the euro and the European Constitution. She served as Deputy Leader of the Conservatives in the European Parliament between 2001 and 2002. She also served as a member of the governing board of the Conservative Party during this period.[citation needed]

Member of Parliament[edit]

In 2003, following Sir Sydney Chapman's announcement that he would retire at the following election, Villiers was selected as the Conservative prospective parliamentary candidate for Chipping Barnet. Although Chapman's majority at the 2001 general election had been only 2,701, the party viewed Chipping Barnet to be quite a "safe" Conservative seat, and Villiers held it at the 2005 general election with an increased majority of 5,960, which increased again to 11,927 in 2010. On election to Westminster she resigned her seat in the European Parliament; it went to Syed Kamall, the next candidate on the Conservatives' regional list for London. She now lives at Arkley in her constituency and used to live at Hillsborough Castle.[citation needed]

Villiers was sworn of the Privy Council on 9 June 2010.[7]

Shadow Cabinet[edit]

In December 2005, following the election of David Cameron as Conservative leader, Villiers was promoted to the Shadow Cabinet after just seven months in parliament, as Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury. In July 2007 Cameron promoted her to Shadow Secretary of State for Transport.[citation needed]


Following the 2010 general election, the Conservatives, short of an overall majority, formed a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats. This required positions in Cabinet to be awarded to LibDem MPs, so Villiers did not become Secretary of State for Transport as might have been expected in the event of a majority Conservative government taking office. That role went instead to Philip Hammond, who had shadowed the post of Chief Secretary to the Treasury. Villiers instead became a Minister of State at the Department for Transport.[8]

At the NI Investment Conference 2013 in Belfast, with Martin McGuinness, David Cameron and Peter Robinson

Villiers was appointed Secretary of State for Northern Ireland in September 2012 but continued to spend three days a week in her North London constituency of Chipping Barnet.[9] Her time in N.Ireland was perceived negatively [10]

She made a speech in February 2016 defending the Royal Ulster Constabulary and the British Army, which had been accused of colluding with loyalist murderers in the Loughinisland massacre. The Police Ombudsman who investigated the murders, Dr Michael Maguire, later stated with regard to law enforcement authorities colluding with the murderers: "I have no hesitation in unambiguously determining that collusion is a significant feature of the Loughinisland murders."[11]

Villiers had said that "a pernicious counter-narrative" of the Troubles was emerging whereby responsibility for acts of terrorism was being shifted onto the security forces "through allegations of collusion, misuse of agents and informers or other forms of unlawful activity".[citation needed]

Villiers is one of the six Cabinet ministers who came out in support of Brexit during the EU referendum. Despite the national vote to leave the EU, both her constituency, Chipping Barnet, and area of cabinet responsibility, Northern Ireland, had majorities voting to remain. Following the referendum, on 14 July 2016 she resigned from her position as Northern Ireland Secretary[3] after explaining that new PM Theresa May had offered her a post outside the cabinet which was "not one which I felt I could take on".[12]

Parliamentary expenses and second home[edit]

The Daily Telegraph reported on 11 May 2009 that Theresa Villiers had bought a property in Kennington, London, for £345,000. In 2007–08 she claimed a total of £18,181 in parliamentary allowances for a second home.[citation needed]

She also has a house in Arkley in her north London constituency of Chipping Barnet. The house, a semi-detached property that she bought for £296,500 in May 2004, is an eight-minute drive away from High Barnet tube station, from which commuters can reach Westminster in about 45 minutes.[13]

Political opinions[edit]

Villiers supported the temporary suspension of Ken Livingstone, then Mayor of London, by the Adjudication Panel for England, which examined the case after a complaint from the Board of Deputies of British Jews to the Standards Board for England. Villiers is a member of Conservative Friends of Israel.[14]

Since late September 2008, Villiers has dedicated a considerable proportion of her public announcements to aviation policy, specifically the expansion of airports in the South East of England. Villiers underlined that despite differences of opinion, the Coalition government's policy was opposed to a third runway.[15]

She has also spoken out against Boris Johnson's favoured proposal for a new London airport to be built in the Thames Estuary, and alternative expansions at Gatwick and Stansted airports, arguing that airlines should make greater use of the UK's regional airports, though some regional airports themselves have expressed concern about being adversely affected by capacity shortages in the south-east.[16] Villiers favours a high-speed rail link from London to Birmingham and Manchester, arguing that flyers could use capacity at airports such as Birmingham International and Manchester International Airport.

Personal life[edit]

Villiers married fellow barrister Sean Wilken in 1997,[5] and the following year they co-wrote a book on matters of contract and quasi-contract law, which was published by a major publishing house.[17] They are now divorced.[18]


  • Theresa Villiers & Sean Wilken (29 April 1998). Law of Estoppel, Variation and Waiver. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 0-471-96921-4. 


  1. ^ "As it happened: Reshuffle". BBC News. 4 September 2012. 
  2. ^ "Theresa Villiers MP". BBC Democracy Live. Retrieved 17 August 2012. 
  3. ^ a b "Theresa May's cabinet: Who's in and who's out?". BBC News. 14 July 2016. Retrieved 14 July 2016. 
  4. ^ Mosley, Charles (ed.) (2003). Burke's Peerage & Baronetage, 107th edn. London: Burke's Peerage & Gentry Ltd. p. 799 (CLARENDON, E). ISBN 0-9711966-2-1. 
  5. ^ a b "Theresa Anne Villiers". The Peerage. Retrieved 12 May 2010. 
  6. ^ "Conservative Diary". The Free Library. 20 May 2003. Retrieved 11 May 2010. 
  7. ^ "Privy Council appointments, 9 June 2010". Privy Council. Retrieved 26 July 2010. 
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ [1], July 15, 2016, Sam McBride, Belfast Newsletter, retrieved at July 15, 2016
  11. ^ NI Police colluded with Loyalist killers of six Catholics watching World Cup Irish Central, June 11, 2016
  12. ^ "Theresa Villiers to be replaced as Northern Ireland secretary". BBC News. BBC. 14 July 2016. Retrieved 14 July 2016. 
  13. ^ Theresa Villiers claimed stamp duty on second London home: MPs' expenses Telegraph 11 May 2009
  14. ^ Sloan, Alaistair. "Ed Miliband will back Israel". Middle East Monitor. Retrieved 13 April 2015. 
  15. ^ Thomas, Natalie. "Theresa Villiers shuts door on third runway at Heathrow". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 23 March 2015. 
  16. ^ Tighe, Chris (15 July 2012). "UK hopes to boost regional airports". Financial Times. Retrieved 7 September 2012. 
  17. ^ Theresa Villiers & Sean Wilken (29 April 1998). Law of Estoppel, Variation and Waiver. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 0-471-96921-4. 
  18. ^ "Theresa Villiers". Westminster Parliamentary Record. Retrieved 12 May 2010. 

External links[edit]

European Parliament
New constituency Member of the European Parliament
for London

Succeeded by
Syed Kamall
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Sydney Chapman
Member of Parliament
for Chipping Barnet

Political offices
Preceded by
Philip Hammond
Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury
Succeeded by
Philip Hammond
Preceded by
Chris Grayling
Shadow Secretary of State for Transport
Succeeded by
The Lord Adonis
Preceded by
Sadiq Khan
Minister of State for Transport
Succeeded by
Simon Burns
Preceded by
Owen Paterson
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
Succeeded by
James Brokenshire