Open main menu

Robert William Henry Seely[1] MBE (born 1 June 1966) is a British Conservative Party politician who has served as the Member of Parliament (MP) for the Isle of Wight since June 2017.[2]

Bob Seely

Official portrait of Mr Bob Seely crop 2.jpg
Member of Parliament
for Isle of Wight
Assumed office
8 June 2017
Preceded byAndrew Turner
Majority21,069 (28.3%)
Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
In office
7 January 2019 – 16 July 2019
Prime MinisterTheresa May
Preceded byCraig Tracey
Personal details
Born (1966-06-01) 1 June 1966 (age 53)
Political partyConservative
ResidenceBrighstone, Isle of Wight
Military service
Allegiance United Kingdom
Branch/serviceBritish Army


Early life and careerEdit

Seely was educated at Arnold House School and Harrow School.

Journalism, policy and mediaEdit

From 1990 to 1994, Seely worked as a foreign correspondent in Eastern Europe as a stringer for The Times newspaper. He first visited what was then the USSR in early 1990, witnessing the first celebrations of Easter in western Ukraine since Soviet occupation after World War II, and also early Chernobyl disaster protests in Kiev that year. He filed an initial batch of reports and was invited by the newspaper to return permanently from 1990 to 1994. During his tenure in the country, Seely reported from most of the republics or new nations: Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia (including Nagorny Karabakh), Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. During this time, he made visits to the Balkans, including Sarajevo and Kosovo. He also wrote occasional articles for The Spectator and The Sunday Times.[3]

In the final year in the former USSR, Seely became a Special Correspondent for the Washington Post. He then spent a year in the United States writing a book, Deadly Embrace, on Russia's role in the Caucasus. During this time, he was a fellow at Brown University's Watson Institute. He returned to the UK to work for the Associated Press as a London-based reporter.[4]

In 2000 Seely moved briefly into politics. He worked at Conservative Central Office, heading up the foreign affairs team for Francis Maude; and he also worked briefly for Michael Howard and Sir Malcolm Rifkind.

From 2005 to 2008 Seely worked for MTV Networks International.[5]


From 2008 onwards, Seely served in the UK Armed Forces.  He was mobilised or placed on Full Time Reserve Service (FTRS) for nearly a decade until his selection as a parliamentary candidate in the 2017 election, at which time he resigned his full-time service and returned to the Army Reserve. He has served on the four major UK operations: Iraq. Afghanistan, Libya and ISIS.[6]

As a British Army Sergeant, he was awarded a Joint Commanders Commendation in 2009 for his tour of Iraq and a Military MBE in the 2016 Operational Awards and Honours List.[7][8] He has since been commissioned.[9]


Seely has been a research associate at the Changing Character of War Programme at the University of Oxford. His academic writing is available online.[10] He has contributed to the King's College War Studies blog,[11] Oxford Politics Department blog,[12] the Washington Post's social sciences blog,[13] Prospect magazine and RUSI Journal, published by the Royal United Services Institute.[14]

Political careerEdit

Seely's political career began as a personal assistant to Shaun Woodward, until Woodward's defection to the Labour Party in 1999.[15] Following this he worked at Conservative Central Office as an adviser of foreign affairs to Michael Howard, Francis Maude and Sir Malcolm Rifkind.[16]


Seely at the 2017 General Election count at his Isle of wight constituency

In 2005, Seely stood at the Broxtowe constituency but lost to the sitting Labour MP Nick Palmer by 2,296 votes.[17]

In 2013, he was voted to represent Central Wight on the Isle of Wight Council for the Conservatives and retained the seat in 2017. After the decision by sitting Conservative MP Andrew Turner to stand down at the 2017 general election, Seely was selected as the candidate for the Isle of Wight seat and gained 38,190 votes, representing 51.3% of the vote. He previously worked with Turner on the One Wight campaign, acting as campaign co-ordinator, in 2010.[18] During his campaign, he suggested that were he to be elected, he would campaign for improvements to the Island Line rail network.[19] He resigned as a county Councillor in late 2017.[20]

Seely is the sixth member of his paternal family to become a Member of Parliament, and the second to become the Member of Parliament for the Isle of Wight.[21]

In ParliamentEdit

Since entering Parliament Seely has spoken in 37 debates - which is average in comparison to other MPs.[22] In his maiden speech, he called for a better deal for the Isle of Wight from Government.[23] Seely’s speeches, in Hansard, are readable by an average 17–18 year old, going by the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Levelscore.[22]

Seely's first vote as a Member of Parliament took place on 28 June 2017, where he voted against removing the pay cap for police and fire services. This was deemed controversial by some following his comments during his election campaign where he praised the emergency services following the fire at Grenfell Tower.[24]

On 12 July 2017 Seely established the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) to promote the interests of islands around the UK to encourage MPs and Peers from all political parties to join together to lobby government for their respective islands. The group has engaged on a number of issues that affect islands, including healthcare, local government funding and supporting Island economies. He has called or participated in three separate Westminster Hall Parliamentary debates focusing on island issues, as part of the UK Islands APPG.[25]

Seely was appointed the position of Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to the Ministerial team at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in January 2019.[26][27] On 16 July 2019 Seely resigned from this position following his decision to vote against Government over HS2.[28][29]

On 31 May 2019, Seely wrote an article for CapX stating that he is supporting Michael Gove in his bid to become leader of the Conservative Party.[30]

Island ManifestoEdit

Seely's manifesto, A Vision for the Island, was published a year after he entered parliament, in July 2018.[31] In it, Seely sets out how he believes that the Isle of Wight should develop over the coming decades.[32]

He outlines his top-ten major goals as being to:

  • Deliver increased numbers of genuinely affordable housing for Islanders, and especially young Islanders.
  • At the same time, protect the landscape, severely limiting green field development and speculative development outside built-up areas
  • Raise primary and secondary education standards, have fewer but better sixth forms and develop a higher education facility and campus
  • Improve the integration of health and social care, ensure that the NHS on the Island is on a secure footing
  • Use arts to drive inspiration, aspiration, education and regeneration
  • Develop public transport (cycle and rail)
  • Develop the Island's digital infrastructure and economy as part of a drive to attract high-quality jobs
  • Encourage the ferry firms to support the Island better
  • Improve the Island's visitor offer and develop high-quality tourism
  • Extend the land covered by the Area of Outstanding National Beauty designation and look seriously at whether the Island should become a national park

Committees and foreign affairsEdit

In February 2018, he was elected by his Conservative colleagues to sit on the cross-party Foreign Affairs Select Committee, whose remit is to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).[33]

In July 2018 Seely was elected to the Committees on Arms Export Controls.[34]

In June 2018, in a paper for the Henry Jackson Society titled "A Definition of Contemporary Russian Conflict: how does the Kremlin wage war?", Seely outlined the first comprehensive definition of the nature of modern Russian warfare. He proposes the term "Contemporary Russian Conflict" to describe both the overt and covert forms of influence used by the Kremlin.[35] He described modern Russian conflict as "a sophisticated and integrated form of state influence closely linked to political objectives. It has, at its core, the KGB toolkit of 'Active Measures' – political warfare – around which has been wrapped a full spectrum of state tools. Such tools are overt and covert, conventional and non-conventional, and are used in a coordinated, efficient and, often, coercive fashion. It is holistic, opportunistic, and flexible. It is a strategic art, not purely a military art."[36]

In September 2018, in an article for ConservativeHome, Seely outlined the 10 measures the Security Minister Ben Wallace should consider in order to respond to and deter the "subversive activities of Russia". These included: creating a small, permanent multi-agency group to understand and expose foreign subversive activities, introduce a UK Foreign Agents Act to ensure PR agencies, reputation management firms and others who work as agents for foreign states are listed as such, changes to the UK visa regime, strengthen OFCOM powers and a Royal Commission to understand the threat to our electoral system by cyber infiltration and fake news.[37]

In October, Seely hosted a press conference in parliament, in conjunction with the online investigative journalist website Bellingcat, to announce the identity of the second Skripal assassin suspect.[38][39]

He has also written for the The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The Times and the online sites ConservativeHome, CapX and the Spectator online on foreign affairs.[40]

Global Britain StudyEdit

On 11 February 2019, Seely co-authored a major report on British foreign policy, post-Brexit, Global Britain: A Twenty-First Century Vision.[41] In it, Seely and co-author James Rogers recommended a restructuring of overseas policy. The recommendations were:

  • Establish a National Strategy Council to oversee a National Global Strategy to better integrate the work of the FCO and MoD, among other parts of government.
  • Integrate the Department of International trade and the Department for International Development into the FCO as agencies to improve integration in Whitehall.
  • Structure British global policy around the promotion of three great, fundamental freedoms: Freedom for Trade, Freedom from Oppression, and Freedom of Thought.
  • Strengthen greater cooperation with Australia, Canada and New Zealand (the so-called "CANZUK" group).
  • Champion the international order by greater investment in the United Nations.
  • Redefine the definition of international aid to allow the UK to fund an expanded BBC World Service and all Ministry of Defence peacekeeping operations.

Investigation into HuaweiEdit

On the 16th May 2019, Seely co-authored a first major investigation into the Chinese tech giant Huawei and its possible role in the development of 5G.[42] The report, published in the Henry Jackson Society, was also authored by Peter Varnish and John Hemmings. It recommended barring Huawei from involvement in the UK's 5G infrastructure network. The report was endorsed by Sir Richard Dearlove, who led MI6 between 1999 and 2004, and former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.[43]

The investigation concluded:

  • Huawei was subordinate to China’s 2017 National Intelligence Law and was obliged to assist China’s intelligence agencies in operations, research and development. Despite claims to the contrary, it would be likely to be compelled to act in Beijing’s interests by the CCP leadership.
  • Huawei’s claims to be a private company are highly problematic, as it is 98% owned by a trade union committee. Huawei acts like – and is treated like – a state-owned enterprise by Chinese state- banks.
  • Huawei has on many occasions been accused of having an active or passive role in espionage and has worked with Chinese security forces in Xinjiang province, where many individuals are under surveillance or in re-education camps.
  • Huawei should be treated as a high-risk vendor.

The report featured high on the news on the day of launch, including as one of the lead items on the BBC News.[44]

Personal lifeEdit

Seely lives in the west of the Isle of Wight near the village of Brighstone.

He was born to an English father and German mother, and was educated at Arnold House School and Harrow.[7] He comes from a long line of family members involved in politics on the Isle of Wight and elsewhere in the country. Seely’s great-great-uncle, General Jack Seely, was MP for the Isle of Wight between 1900 and 1906 and again between 1923 and 1924, in between which time he served in the First World War – including leading one of the last great cavalry charges in history at the Battle of Moreuil Wood on his war horse Warrior.[7]

He is a keen swimmer and has swum the Solent twice for charity, most recently in August 2018 to raise funds for the West Wight Sports and Community Centre.[45]

Seely is a strong supporter of LGBT rights. In July 2018 Seely took part in the parade for Isle of Wight Pride, where he was joined by Conchita Wurst. In an interview with Pink News following the event, Seely stated that he felt that “for dictators gays are the new Jews”.[46]

On 30 December 2018 Seely wrote an article for Conservative Home expressing his concern over the Chinese State ownership of the dating app Grindr, stating that “The Chinese state very likely now has access to highly sensitive sexual information relating to the 3.1 million people who date on it daily.”[47]


  • War and Humanitarian Action in Chechnya (Occasional paper) (Thomas J. Watson Jr. Institute for International Studies, 1996) ASIN B0006QNGGS
  • Russo-Chechen Conflict, 1800–2000: A Deadly Embrace (Soviet Russian Military Experience) (Routledge, 2001) ISBN 0714680605

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Declaration of Result of Poll". Isle of Wight Council. Retrieved 9 June 2017.
  2. ^ Wallace, Mark (5 May 2017). "Seely wins Isle of Wight selection". ConservativeHome. Retrieved 8 June 2016.
  3. ^ "About Bob Seely". Bob Seely MP. Retrieved 19 November 2017.
  4. ^ "About Bob Seely". Bob Seely MP. Retrieved 22 February 2019.
  5. ^ "About Bob Seely". Bob Seely MP. Retrieved 17 December 2018.
  6. ^ "About Bob Seely". Bob Seely MP. Retrieved 25 February 2019.
  7. ^ a b c "About Bob Seely". Bob Seely MP. Retrieved 9 June 2017.
  8. ^ Perry, Sally (19 October 2016). "Bob Seely 'interested in standing' as Isle of Wight MP". OnTheWight.
  9. ^
  10. ^ "Robert W. H. Seely". Retrieved 23 November 2017.
  11. ^ Seely, Robert (30 October 2015). "Russia Hybrid War – a response". Defence-In-Depth. Retrieved 23 November 2017.
  12. ^ Seely, Robert (26 January 2017). "Kompromat or not, Russia already has a winner in Trump - OxPol". OxPol. Retrieved 23 November 2017.
  13. ^ Seely, Robert W. H. (22 May 2016). "Ukraine defeated Russia — at Eurovision. Here's why that matters". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 23 November 2017.
  14. ^ "Robert W. H. Seely". Retrieved 23 November 2017.
  15. ^ Wintour, Patrick (19 December 1999). "How Hague lost a rising star". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  16. ^ "About Bob Seely". Bob Seely MP. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  17. ^ Perry, Sally (7 May 2017). "Isle of Wight Conservative's pick their MP hopeful". Isle of Wight News from OnTheWight.
  18. ^ "OneWight".
  19. ^ Taylor, Haydn (30 May 2017). "Time to look at re-opening Isle of Wight railway routes, says Tory candidate". Isle of Wight County Press. Isle of Wight County Press. Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  20. ^ "MP Bob Seely to quit Isle of Wight Council role". Retrieved 13 February 2018.
  21. ^ "About Bob Seely". Bob Seely MP. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  22. ^ a b "Bob Seely MP, Isle of Wight". TheyWorkForYou. Retrieved 25 February 2019.
  23. ^ Bob Seely MP (5 July 2017), Bob Seely MP: Maiden Speech, retrieved 24 February 2019
  24. ^ "Bob Seely MP's first vote in Parliament: No to 'fair pay rise' for firefighters, police, nurses or teachers". Isle of Wight News from OnTheWight. 29 June 2017. Retrieved 8 June 2019.
  25. ^ "Bob Seely chairs first meeting of parliamentary group on UK Islands". Bob Seely MP. Retrieved 24 February 2019.
  26. ^ ""About the Authors" p2 'Global Britain: A twenty-first century Britain'" (PDF).
  27. ^ "Twitter". Retrieved 8 June 2019.
  28. ^ "MP Bob Seely quits government role after refusing to back HS2 plan". Isle of Wight County Press. Retrieved 3 August 2019.
  29. ^ Seely, Bob (17 July 2019). "Why I resigned my government position to oppose HS2". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 3 August 2019.
  30. ^ "Why I'm backing Michael Gove". CapX. 31 May 2019. Retrieved 8 June 2019.
  31. ^ "Isle of Wight MP Bob Seely publishes Island Manifesto". Island Echo. 17 July 2018. Retrieved 24 February 2019.
  32. ^ "My Vision for the Island". Island Manifesto. Retrieved 24 February 2019.
  33. ^ "Bob's Vlog 16: Hampshire and the Foreign Affairs Select Committee". Bob Seely MP. Retrieved 24 February 2019.
  34. ^ "Mr Bob Seely MP". UK Parliament. Retrieved 24 February 2019.
  35. ^ "A Definition of Contemporary Russian Conflict: How Does the Kremlin Wage War?". Henry Jackson Society. Retrieved 24 February 2019.
  36. ^ Seely, Bob. "A Definition of Contemporary Russian Conflict: how does the Kremlin wage war?" (PDF).
  37. ^ "Bob Seely: Ten steps to defend our country against the aggression and subversion of Putin's Russia". Conservative Home. Retrieved 24 February 2019.
  38. ^ "Bellingcat: Announcement of the Identity of Second Skripal Suspect". Eventbrite. Retrieved 24 February 2019.
  39. ^ "Second Skripal attack suspect 'is doctor'". 9 October 2018. Retrieved 24 February 2019.
  40. ^ "Bob Seely: The new emphasis on looking after veterans is one of the most important things to have come out of the Iraq War". Conservative Home. Retrieved 24 February 2019.
  41. ^ Seely, Bob (11 February 2019). "Defending our data: Huawei, 5G and the five eyes" (PDF).
  42. ^ "Defending our Data: Huawei, 5G and the Five Eyes". Henry Jackson Society. Retrieved 7 July 2019.
  43. ^ Defence, Dan Sabbagh; editor, security; Henley, Jon (16 May 2019). "Huawei poses security threat to UK, says former MI6 chief". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 7 July 2019.
  44. ^ "Huawei an unnecessary risk, ex-spy chief says". 16 May 2019. Retrieved 7 July 2019.
  45. ^ "Bob Seely MP joins Solent Swimmers – West Wight Sports and Community Centre". West Wight Sports and Community Centre. 17 June 2018. Retrieved 9 September 2018.
  46. ^ "Tory MP: For dictators, gays are the new Jews - PinkNews · PinkNews". Retrieved 9 June 2019.
  47. ^ "Bob Seely: Williamson is right. China and Huawei are threats to our security". Conservative Home. Retrieved 9 June 2019.

External linksEdit