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and I had been asked to run his parliamentary office which I did for just under two years. I can’t remember who it was, I think it was probably William, who said “You know, it’s great that you’re interested in politics but you’ve got to go and have a career outside of it.” That was some pretty good advice. I was fully aware that if you want to be a capable politician you have to be able to understand the way the world works. Westminster, as everyone says, is a bubble and you cannot understand how policy decisions have an impact unless you’ve had some experience of the outside world. So I booked a one- way ticket to Singapore and found myself being hired by a shipping company. I really enjoyed working in the shipping sector – if it all goes wrong I’ll go back to it!


How did you get back into politics? In 2016 there was a bit of a blip in the shipping markets. I was working in West Africa and basically just saw my market dissolve over the space of about three months. At the same time William left frontline politics and moved to the House of Lords. He needed somebody to come and run his private office and so I became what you’d call his private secretary, which was fascinating. I worked with William to help close the illegal wildlife trade market in the UK, ending the sale of ivory. I also worked on the Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict (PSVC) initiative William set up with Angelina Jolie. It is still going today and from being just a humble researcher on the issue I am now the chair of the all-party parliamentary group on PSVI. I had a fantastic two years setting up and running William’s office. I handed it over when I got an opportunity to do some work around international trade. I was given the job of special advisor to the Secretary of State for Wales to help specifically on trade because, bizarrely, Wales and Japan have


these extraordinary trading links so there are some seriously high tech industries there.


How did that lead on to you becoming an MP? I stood in the 2017 election for Warley in the West Midlands. It was a seat I was never going to win. The first door I knocked on was opened by an old gentleman who said the last Conservative to knock on his door was Enoch Powell. When you stand in an election you put yourself on show and if you don’t like it, that’s a pretty good indicator that you are probably not going to like politics. I absolutely loved it. It really lit the fire in my engine so I put my name forward and a vacancy in Totnes came


“ If you are asking


me if I’ll ever be Prime Minister the answer is no.”


up and I stood for the seat in the 2019 election. I was delighted and honoured to represent somewhere that means not only a lot to my family, but to me personally. I have roots here and a lot of family links and that was a big driving force for me in representing this area.


Are your family surprised that you have gone into politics? I think my father is horrified! I think my mother is as well. My mum came to the count with me on election night and I just remember seeing her thinking “Why on earth is he doing this?” I think my father had an expectation that I was going to go into the army or do something along those lines, and it will always be a little bit of a regret of mine that I didn’t do a short term commission. But they are incredibly supportive.


Are they proud of your political achievements?


I think they probably are. It’s a hard question to answer because they also see the stresses and strains that come with it. It’s not necessarily easy to see someone working all hours, and to see the commitment that it takes. But they enjoy hearing about the things that are successful and they enjoy hearing about when you get a good slapdown for saying something silly. My parents were very loosely interested in the political scene but I think everyone has become just a little bit more aware of the political world now just from having to watch these Covid news updates of the Prime Minister doing his Number 10 briefings, or the statements in Parliament.


Do you see your future in politics? I see myself doing the job for as long as I feel capable and able to do it for the benefit of the people really. It’s always important to know that you can do other things and certainly from my time in shipping I know that. But I am, at the moment, just focused on getting through my first term, delivering on the things that I promised in my election manifesto and helping people in the constituency.


What are your political ambitions? I don’t know that I do hanker after any job at the moment. If you are asking me if I’ll ever be Prime Minister the answer is no. I think it’s a job that’s almost impossible and I don’t necessarily think I’ve got the requisite skills to be prime minister. For better or for worse, being self aware of your strengths and your weaknesses is a good quality, even if that sounds rather arrogant in the first place. For the moment I’m learning the ropes, figuring out how we can get things achieved for the area and focussing on being a good back bencher by holding the Government to account and delivering for my constituents.


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