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Jenny Willott

The Right Honourable
Jenny Willott
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Employment Relations, Consumer and Postal Affairs and Women and Equalities
In office
18 December 2013 – 30 June 2014
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Jo Swinson
Succeeded by Jo Swinson
Member of Parliament
for Cardiff Central
In office
5 May 2005 – 30 March 2015
Preceded by Jon Owen Jones
Succeeded by Jo Stevens
Majority 4,576 (12.7%)
Personal details
Born (1974-05-29) 29 May 1974
Wimbledon, Merton, London, England
Nationality British
Political party Welsh Liberal Democrats
Spouse(s) Andrew Poole
Children 2 sons
Alma mater Durham University
London School of Economics

Jennifer Nancy Willott (born 29 May 1974) is a British politician. She was the Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament for Cardiff Central from 2005 to 2015.[1] Willott became a junior minister in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and Government Equalities Office in December 2013, temporarily standing in for Jo Swinson while she was on maternity leave. She is the first woman and first Liberal Democrat to represent her seat. She was a councillor in the London Borough of Merton from 1998 to 2000.


  • Education 1
  • Political career 2
  • Personal life 3
  • Controversy 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Willott was born in Wimbledon, London.[2] She was educated at Uppingham School, studied Classics at St Mary's College, Durham University,[2] and attended the London School of Economics, obtaining an MSc in Development Studies.

Political career

For a while after university she was chief researcher for Lembit Opik, Liberal Democrat MP for Montgomeryshire.

Willott's 2005 campaign was closely linked to specific local and national issues and her support was widespread across all wards.

In her maiden speech, Willott pledged to "make Cardiff proud" and celebrated the cultural diversity of her constituency. She declared her priorities in parliament would be local health services, tuition and top-up fees, and council tax.[3]

She supported Sir Menzies Campbell in the leadership election in 2006, and was later appointed Shadow Minister for Youth Affairs, Whip, and Deputy Chief Whip.

In 2008 she was appointed as Shadow Minister for Justice and later Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. In January 2009 she was appointed Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.[4]

In December 2010 she resigned her post as parliamentary aide to Chris Huhne shortly before a vote to increase tuition fees as recommended by the Browne Review, in order to keep her pledge to constituents that she would vote against any increase in fees.[5]

In a mini-reshuffle of the Coalition Government on 3 February 2012 caused by Huhne's prosecution and subsequent resignation, Willott was appointed an Assistant Whip.[6]

In May 2014 Willott complained about the hostile atmosphere of prime minister's questions and the low number of female ministers. She called for all-female shortlists for MPs, something which is not Liberal Democrat party policy.[7] In 2014, she left the Government but was appointed to the Privy Council by David Cameron.[8] In 2015, she lost her seat in the House of Commons to the Labour Party's Jo Stevens.

Personal life

She is married to Andrew Poole and they have two children;[9] the birth of her second child in February 2013 notably necessitated her absence from a vote on the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Bill.[10]


Willott was subject to criticism from rival political parties and the media in the wake of the expenses scandal, as it emerged she claimed more in expenses and administration costs than any other Welsh MP. Her expenses and office costs were £57,000 in a year, including claims for a new flat and costs of moving offices in central Cardiff. [11]

Willott also came under some pressure from political opponents over her support for the bedroom tax. A protest outside her Cardiff office about the issue led to her not going in for the day.[12]


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b "Biography". Jenny Willott MP. Retrieved 17 March 2015. 
  3. ^ Jenny Willott's maiden speech, 26 May 2006
  4. ^ My Biography, Jenny Willott MP
  5. ^ "Lib Dems quit government to oppose tuition fees rise". BBC News. 9 December 2010. Retrieved 9 December 2010. 
  6. ^ "Press notice: New Ministerial Appointments". 3 February 2012. 
  7. ^ "Equalities minister decries male-led Westminster and 'hateful' PMQs". 8 May 2014. Retrieved 8 May 2014. 
  8. ^ "Privy Council appointments: November 2014". United Kingdom Cabinet Office. Retrieved 17 March 2015. 
  9. ^ "Who's Who". Retrieved 17 March 2015. 
  10. ^ "Lib Dem MP Martin Horwood: Why I wasn’t present for the equal marriage vote". PinkNews. Retrieved 17 March 2015. 
  11. ^ Graham Henry (17 August 2013). "Welsh MP expenses 2012/13 - Wales Online". walesonline. Retrieved 17 March 2015. 
  12. ^ "Morning Star :: Shamed Cardiff MP flees bedroom tax protesters". Retrieved 17 March 2015. 

External links

  • Jenny Willott MP official constituency website
  • Profile at the Liberal Democrats
  • Profile at the Welsh Liberal Democrats
  • Cardiff Liberal Democrats
  • Profile at Parliament of the United Kingdom
  • Contributions in Parliament at Hansard 1803–2005
  • Current session contributions in Parliament at Hansard
  • Voting record at Public Whip
  • Record in Parliament at TheyWorkForYou
  • Profile at Westminster Parliamentary Record
  • Profile at BBC News Democracy Live
  • Meet the MP: Jenny Willott BBC News, 20 December 2005
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Jon Owen Jones
Member of Parliament for Cardiff Central
Succeeded by
Jo Stevens
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