Thérèse Coffey

Last updated


Thérèse Coffey

MP
CsHBoP4f.jpg
Coffey in 2019
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
Assumed office
8 September 2019
Prime Minister Boris Johnson
Preceded by Amber Rudd
Minister of State for Environment and Rural Opportunity [1]
In office
17 July 2016 8 September 2019
Prime Minister Theresa May
Boris Johnson
Preceded by Rory Stewart
Succeeded by Rebecca Pow
Deputy Leader of the House of Commons
In office
11 May 2015 17 July 2016
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Tom Brake
Succeeded by Michael Ellis
Member of Parliament
for Suffolk Coastal
Assumed office
6 May 2010
Preceded by John Gummer
Majority20,533 (35.2%)
Personal details
Born
Thérèse Anne Coffey

(1971-11-18) 18 November 1971 (age 48) [2] [3]
Billinge, Lancashire, England
Nationality British
Political party Conservative
Alma mater Somerville College, Oxford
University College London
Website www.theresecoffey.co.uk

Thérèse Anne Coffey (born 18 November 1971) is a British politician serving as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions since 2019. A member of the Conservative Party, Coffey has served as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Suffolk Coastal since 2010. She retained her seat at the 2015, 2017 and 2019 general elections.

Contents

Early life and career

Coffey was born on 18 November 1971 in Billinge, Lancashire, and grew up in Liverpool. She attended St Mary's College, Crosby, [4] St Edward's College, Liverpool, [2] Somerville College, Oxford, [5] and then University College London, where she was awarded a PhD in Chemistry in 1998. [6] [7]

Coffey stood as Conservative Party candidate for the Wrexham constituency, in Wales, at the 2005 general election. She came third with 6,079 votes (20% of the vote). [8]

In the European Parliament elections in June 2004, Coffey stood for election to the European Parliament for the South East region of England. [9] The Conservative Party won 35.2% of the vote, giving it four seats, but Coffey was seventh on the list in this proportional representation system, meaning that she failed to be elected.

In 2009, at the next European elections, Coffey was living in Andover, Hampshire; she missed out by one place on being elected to the European Parliament for the South East region. The Conservative Party won 34.79% of the vote, giving it four seats, but she was fifth on the party list. [10]

Parliamentary career

After being selected on 6 February 2010 to stand as Conservative candidate in the Suffolk Coastal constituency, Coffey moved from Hampshire to Westleton. [11] [12] [13] The Rev. David Miller, vice-chairman of the local Liberal Democrats, raised questions over the status of her residency there, claiming with reference to her Westleton property that "The address at which Ms Coffey currently resides is a holiday let". [14] She owns a flat and partly owns a house, both in Hampshire, [15] and has the tenancy of a house in Westleton.

At the general election on 6 May 2010 she won the Suffolk Coastal seat, becoming the constituency's first female Member of Parliament. Coffey received 25,475 votes (46.4% of the vote), an increase of 1.8% on John Gummer's 2005 campaign. [16] She is a supporter of the Free Enterprise Group. [17]

On 6 July 2011, she defended Rebekah Brooks over the News of the World 's involvement in the news media phone hacking scandal. She said a "witch hunt" was developing against Brooks, and that simply to say Brooks was editor of the newspaper at the time was not enough evidence against her. Coffey became a member of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee inquiry into the hacking scandal in 2012. In that committee, she declined to support any motions critical of Rupert and James Murdoch. [18] However, she later joined the majority of her party in voting for exemplary damages to be a default consequence to deter press misbehaviour. [19]

Frontbench career

Coffey was a member of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee from July 2010 to October 2012, when she was appointed Parliamentary Private Secretary to Michael Fallon, Minister for Business and Energy. [20] In July 2014, she was appointed an Assistant Government Whip. [21]

In 2013 she voted against the legalisation of same-sex marriage, stating: "I shall be voting against the Bill because my perspective on what marriage is really about is different from that of some other Members... for me it is fundamentally still about family, the bedrock of society." [22] She again voted against same-sex marriage in 2019 when Parliament considered the same question for Northern Ireland. [23] [24]

She was appointed Deputy Leader of the House of Commons on 11 May 2015. [25]

In the House of Commons she sits on the Environmental Audit Committee and has previously sat on the Culture, Media and Sport Committee. [26]

Coffey's decision to author a paper for the Free Enterprise Group recommending pensioners should be forced to pay National Insurance provoked a backlash among older constituents, who claimed that in an already tough economic environment, it was wrong to tax pensioners further. However, she said that she had "no regrets writing about National Insurance" and that it was "a policy proposal – it is by no means, at this stage, anymore than that." [27]

Coffey also faced criticism from Suffolk residents over her support for the Government's proposal to sell off forestry and woodland in public ownership, in 2011. Protestors argued that "previous experience shows us that when private landowners come in they close car parks and make access as difficult as possible." [28] Coffey voted for the bill, [29] but the proposal was afterward dropped by the government. [30]

In October 2016, she was criticised by the then Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron for accepting hospitality worth £890 from Ladbrokes after supporting the gambling industry in parliament as part of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee. Coffey denied that she had been "influenced in her considerations on matters of related policy by any hospitality received". [31]

In January 2016, an amendment intended to force rented homes to be maintained as "fit for human habitation" was defeated in parliament. Coffey was one of the 72 MPs voting against it who were themselves landlords who derived an income from a property. [32]

In July 2016, Coffey joined the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment and Rural Opportunities, under Theresa May. When Boris Johnson became Prime Minister in July 2019, Coffey was promoted to Minister of State.

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

Following the resignation of Amber Rudd in September 2019, Coffey joined the cabinet as the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. Upon her appointment, she was sworn in as a member of the Privy Council, giving her the honorific title "The Right Honourable" for life. Initially a stop-gap appointment, she retained her position in Boris Johnson's February 2020 post-Brexit cabinet reshuffle. [33] [34]

In June 2020, Coffey responded to footballer Marcus Rashford's campaign for free school meals for children during the COVID-19 pandemic by replying "Water cannot be disconnected though" to a tweet from Rashford urging the government to remember Britain's poorest families, and which included the sentence: "When you wake up this morning and run your shower, take a second to think about parents who have had their water turned off during lockdown." Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said "Imagine having priorities so warped that a snarky comment is your response to Marcus Rashford's powerful campaign. Therese Coffey do the right thing: apologise and vote for free school meals for children in poverty this summer." Coffey subsequently deleted her earlier comments and stated her help and support for Rashford. [35] [36]

Personal life

An avid football fan, she supports Liverpool F.C., and signed the Early Day Motion set down by Labour Liverpool Walton MP Steve Rotheram requesting a knighthood for Kenny Dalglish. [37] She is a keen fan of the rock band Muse. [25] [38] Her sister Clare has worked in her parliamentary office as a secretary since 2015. [39]

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References

  1. Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (2016–July 2019)
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  5. [ dead link ]
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Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
John Gummer
Member of Parliament for Suffolk Coastal
2010–present
Incumbent
Political offices
Preceded by
Amber Rudd
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
2019–present
Incumbent