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55 Anthony Mangnall MP


The average age of Members of Parliament is in their mid forties. At the age of 31 years, Anthony Mangnall, MP (Con) for Totnes, is therefore one of the youngest. He succeeded Sarah Wollaston as the MP for this area in 2019. Prior to his parliamentary career, Anthony worked in shipbroking and as a special adviser to the Secretary of State for Wales. We quizzed Anthony on his early years, what made him want to be an MP and his future ambitions.


What were your early years like? My father was an officer in the Royal Green Jackets and it was a bit like living out of a suitcase for much of my early years. The day I was born we moved to Northern Ireland where he served in military intelligence. We lived there for three years and then returned to England and lived in different locations. My father’s last posting was in Zimbabwe. That was just an extraordinary and eye- opening experience. It was great, a really nice way to grow up. I was incredibly fortunate in that respect. My father left the army shortly after that and my parents went their separate ways. I then went off to Shrewsbury School in Shropshire where I was a boarder.


How and when did you get your first job in politics? It was sort of weird because my family was so military, we had no links with politics whatsoever. Between school and university I took a year out and for the first six months did some work for William Hague. I was in my final year at school and was quite interested in politics and so I wrote him a handwritten letter. It was amazing


I ever got a response because my handwriting was so bad. Basically I said: “I’m really interested in what’s going on in the world, I’m really interested in getting a better understanding of how politics work and how you can actually achieve things. I’m at this crossroads, can I come and work for you?” To my amazement I got a response from


Then I went to shear sheep in Scotland. For two months I went and got incredibly fit and sheared sheep


his team saying come down and have an interview. I worked for his amazing team, including a lady called Arminka Helic who was a Bosnian refugee from conflict who had risen through the ranks in Parliament to become his chief of staff. I had the most extraordinary baptism of fire where I was brought down to zero and made to work incredibly hard, but it was for one of the best politicians of a generation, at least I think so.


What did you do next? After working for William I went off and travelled on my own through


North Africa and the Balkans because I wanted to go to areas that weren’t necessarily on the well trodden path. Then I went to shear sheep in Scotland. For two months I went and got incredibly fit and sheared sheep, so if there are any farmers who are reading this article and need a hand - I’m willing!


What did you study at University? I studied Historical, Political and Sociological Studies at Exeter University, which was great. I did all the things one should do. I did a little bit of student politics but not much. Studying at Exeter brought me home because my family are originally all from South Devon. I have family here near Avonwick and in Mothecombe so coming back to Exeter, back to Devon was like coming home really. At weekends I was down swimming off Blackpool Sands or Mothecombe Beach, or trying to surf but not really doing it very well.


Did you return to politics when you left university? When I left Exeter I went back to work for William for a little bit. At this point he was foreign secretary


Interview by Ginny Farrell


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