Open main menu

Gisela Stuart (née Gschaider; born 26 November 1955) is a former British Labour Party politician, who served as the Member of Parliament for Birmingham Edgbaston from 1997 until stepping down at the 2017 general election. Born and raised in West Germany, she has lived in the UK since 1974.


Gisela Stuart
GiselaStuartOct2008.jpg
Stuart in 2008
Member of Parliament
for Birmingham Edgbaston
In office
1 May 1997 – 3 May 2017
Preceded byJill Knight
Succeeded byPreet Gill
Personal details
Born
Gisela Gschaider

(1955-11-26) 26 November 1955 (age 63)
Velden, Bavaria, West Germany
CitizenshipBritish
Political partyLabour
Spouse(s)
  • Robert Stuart
    (m. 1980; div. 2000)
  • Derek Scott
    (m. 2010; died 2012)
Children2
Alma mater
OccupationChair, Change Britain

Stuart was Chair of the Vote Leave Campaign Committee and was one of its most high-profile figures, along with the Conservative MPs Boris Johnson and Michael Gove. The Vote Leave campaign was successful in achieving its goal at the 2016 United Kingdom European Union membership referendum of winning a majority of votes for Leave.

Since September 2016, Stuart has served as Chair of Vote Leave's successor organisation, Change Britain.

Since 2015, she has been a Steering Committee member of the Constitution Reform Think Tank,[2] chaired by Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 7th Marquess of Salisbury, which seeks a new constitutional settlement in the UK. Their advocacy resulted in a proposal for a new UK law being created - Act of Union. [3]

Stuart did not run for reelection in the 2017 general election. After she left Parliament, she was appointed by the Conservative government as Chair of Wilton Park, an executive agency of the UK Foreign Office dedicated to conflict resolution in international relations, in October 2018.[4]

Early lifeEdit

Gisela Gschaider was born in Velden, Bavaria, and raised in her parents' Roman Catholic faith. She attended the Realschule Vilsbiburg in Vilsbiburg.

After doing an apprenticeship in bookselling, she moved to the UK in 1974 in order to improve her English and to do a Business Studies course at Manchester Polytechnic.[5] She was deputy director of the 1983 London Book Fair.[6] Stuart subsequently relocated to the Midlands.

She graduated from the University of London with an LLB in 1993, having studied through the University of London External System.[7] She began researching for a PhD in trust law (ownership of pension funds) at the University of Birmingham while she also lectured Law to AAT students at Worcestershire College, but did not complete her PhD and instead went into politics full-time.[1]

In 1994, as Gisela Gschaider, Stuart contested the Worcester and South Warwickshire seat at the European elections[8] for Labour. She lost by 1,000 votes.

Parliamentary careerEdit

In 1995, Stuart was selected as Labour's parliamentary candidate for the Birmingham Edgbaston constituency. The constituency, which had once been held by former Conservative Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain (1937–40), had returned only Conservative MPs for 99 years. The sitting Conservative MP at the time, Dame Jill Knight, was retiring after 31 years. On 1 May 1997, Stuart was elected as the first-ever Labour MP for the constituency, making it one of a succession of traditional Conservative seats to fall to Labour control in a landslide victory for the party. Stuart's victory was the first televised Labour gain of the evening.

During the first Tony Blair ministry, Stuart served on the Social Security Select Committee and in 1998 as PPS to Home Office Minister of State Paul Boateng, before joining the government in 1999 as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health. Stuart left this post in the reshuffle that followed after the 2001 United Kingdom general election.[9] Her election agent in that election was John Clancy, who became leader of Birmingham City Council in 2015.[10]

In Blair's second ministry, Stuart was appointed as one of the UK Parliamentary Representatives to the European Convention, which was tasked with drawing up a new constitution for the European Union. In this capacity, Stuart also served as one of the thirteen members of the Convention's Presidium - the steering group responsible for managing the business of the Convention.

When the draft Constitution emerged, Stuart was one of the most trenchant critics of the proposal, stating that it had been drawn up by a "self-selected group of the European political elite" determined to deepen European integration. She subsequently expounded these views in a 2004 Fabian Society pamphlet, The Making of Europe's Constitution. Consequently, she has argued in favour of British withdrawal from the European Union, becoming one of the leading Eurosceptic figures in the Labour Party.[11] In the BBC's two-hour televised debate on the EU referendum, Stuart appeared on the "Leave" panel, along with the Conservative MPs Andrea Leadsom and Boris Johnson.[12]

Between 2001 and 2010, Stuart also served as a member of the House of Commons Select Committee on Foreign Affairs.[9]

She retained her seat at the 2005 United Kingdom general election but her majority was halved in both percentage and numerical terms. Despite the predictions of the pundits, Stuart went on to retain the seat at the 2010 general election, against a national tide of Labour defeat. The election resulted in the first hung parliament in 36 years, with the Conservatives having the most seats.[13] It earned her the title of Survivor of the Year at The Spectator magazine's 2010 Parliamentarian of the Year awards, which was presented to her by the new Conservative Prime Minister, David Cameron.[14] She retained her seat at the 2015 United Kingdom general election with a majority of 2,706 votes, more than double her majority from 2010.[15] She joined the Commons Select Committee on Defence.[9]

In October 2004, she became the only Labour MP who openly supported the re-election of George W. Bush at that year's U.S. presidential election, arguing "you know where you stand with George and, in today's world, that's much better than rudderless leaders who drift with the prevailing wind". She wrote that a victory for Democratic Party challenger, John Kerry, would prompt "victory celebrations among those who want to destroy liberal democracies. More terrorists and suicide bombers would step forward to become martyrs in their quest to destroy the West".[16]

Stuart is a signatory of the Henry Jackson Society principles, which promote the spread of liberal democracy across the world and the maintenance of a strong military with global expeditionary reach.[17] She is the editor of the weekly political magazine The House.[18]

She was sworn in as a member of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom in 2015, giving her the honorific title "The Right Honourable" for life.[19]

She announced on 19 April 2017 that she would not seek re-election at the 2017 snap general election. She was succeeded by Preet Gill, a British Labour Co-operative politician, and the first female British Sikh MP.[20]

Vote LeaveEdit

Stuart served as Chair of the Vote Leave campaign during the 2016 European Union membership referendum. Stuart served as one of the principal figureheads[clarification needed] for Vote Leave, along with Conservative MPs Boris Johnson and Michael Gove.

There were various other Groups, supposedly working independently of Vote Leave, advocating for Leave. UKIP and the "Unofficial" Labour Leave being just two of them.

Stuart was the only[according to whom?] Labour MP in the official Vote Leave Campaign. Most of the other ten Labour MPs, defying the Labour REMAIN party line, joined Labour Leave, which had a lesser role in the referendum.[21] Stuart, representing the Official Leave Group, was the only Labour MP to take part in the official events, such as the televised debates, on behalf of the Leave side.[22] During the campaign she posed in front of a controversial campaign bus[23] which was subsequently the object of legal disputes.[24]

In spite of her visible public advocacy for Leave and her position in the Leave campaign, her constituency of Birmingham Edgbaston voted to Remain in the EU.[25]

After stepping down at the 2017 general election, Stuart revealed that she had pushed for an exit clause in the European Constitution, which later became Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.[26] Article 50 allows for withdrawal from the European Union by any member state and was invoked for the first and only time by Prime Minister Theresa May on 29 March 2017.[27]

In a book entitled How to Lose a Referendum published on its first anniversary in June 2017, Stuart is quoted as having described the EU referendum as an “abuse of democratic process” and as having said she would rather it had never been called.

Vote Leave were the Official nominated lead Leave organisation advocating for Brexit. Vote Leave was criticised after the Referendum and their activities were reviewed by the Electoral Commission and the organisation was fined for rule breaches. [28]

Voting recordEdit

How Stuart voted on key matters since 2001:[29]

  • Voted for introducing a smoking ban
  • Voted for introducing ID cards
  • Voted for introducing foundation hospitals
  • Voted for introducing student top-up fees
  • Voted for Labour's anti-terrorism laws
  • Voted for the Iraq War
  • Voted against investigating the Iraq War
  • Voted for replacing the Trident nuclear programme
  • Voted for ban on fox hunting
  • Voted for equal gay rights
  • Voted for leaving the European Union

Outside of politicsEdit

In 2016, Stuart became the sixth President of the Birmingham Bach Choir.[30]

Stuart became the Chair of Wilton Park on 1 October 2018.[31]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b C. K. Jones, The People's University (London, 2008), p. 33
  2. ^ "Home". Constitution Reform Group.
  3. ^ "Act of Union Bill [HL] 2017-19 — UK Parliament". services.parliament.uk. Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  4. ^ "Foreign & Commonwealth Office announce new Chair of Wilton Park". GOV.UK.
  5. ^ Chakelian, Anoosh (30 November 2016). ""There is more to write about": Labour eurosceptic Gisela Stuart accuses journalists of hamming up Brexit hate crime". New Statesman.
  6. ^ "Vote2001: Candidates – Gisela Stuart". news.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 18 November 2017.
  7. ^ "Gisela Stuart - graduated 1993 | University of London International Programmes". www.londoninternational.ac.uk. 27 September 2011. Retrieved 6 April 2017.
  8. ^ "European Institute". Europeaninstitute.bg. 28 August 2007. Retrieved 2 December 2011.
  9. ^ a b c "Gisela Stuart Biography". Archived from the original on 15 September 2014. Retrieved 1 April 2018.
  10. ^ Elkes, Neil (23 November 2015). "Find out all about the new leader of Birmingham City Council John Clancy". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 1 December 2015.
  11. ^ "Labour MP Gisela Stuart: UK should leave European Union". BBC News. Retrieved 14 February 2016.
  12. ^ "EU referendum: Leave and Remain clash in BBC Great Debate". BBC News. 22 June 2016. Retrieved 1 April 2018.
  13. ^ "Birmingham City Council: General Election 2010". GB-BIR: Birmingham.gov.uk. 6 May 2010. Retrieved 2 December 2011.
  14. ^ "Gisela Stuart Survivor of the Year Award". Archived from the original on 20 October 2013. Retrieved 20 October 2013.
  15. ^ "Ms Gisela Stuart MP". UK Parliament. Retrieved 3 June 2015.
  16. ^ Hennessy, Patrick (31 October 2004). "Anti-Kerry remarks by Labour MP put Blair on the spot". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 2 December 2011.
  17. ^ "Signatories to the Statement of Principles". The Henry Jackson Society. 28 November 2011. Archived from the original on 8 August 2010. Retrieved 2 December 2011.
  18. ^ "MP's pounds 63,000 profit home; New expenses controversy hits Brum MP Gisela". Thefreelibrary.com. Retrieved 2 December 2011.
  19. ^ "Privy Counsellors - Privy Council". privycouncil.independent.gov.uk.
  20. ^ Kirkham, David (29 April 2017). "Preet Gill Confirmed As Labour Candidate For Edgbaston". Redbrick (student newspaper). University of Birmingham. Retrieved 18 May 2017.
  21. ^ Labour, Leave (4 August 2016). "Labour Leave Members". Labour Leave. Archived from the original on 16 December 2015. Retrieved 1 April 2018.
  22. ^ Elgot, Jessica (9 June 2016). "EU referendum debates: when and where to watch them". the Guardian. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  23. ^ "Gobby Gisela". The Steeple Times. 31 March 2019.
  24. ^ "Boris Johnson is facing a legal challenge". The Independent. 14 May 2019.
  25. ^ Brown, Graeme (28 June 2016). "Birmingham Leave MPs' constituencies voted Remain". birminghammail. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  26. ^ "Revealed: How a former Labour MP inadvertently laid the groundwork for Brexit". The Telegraph. 2 June 2017. Retrieved 8 June 2017.
  27. ^ "Article 50: May signs letter that will trigger Brexit". BBC News. 28 March 2017. Retrieved 8 June 2017.
  28. ^ Elgot, Jessica (17 July 2018). "Vote Leave fined and reported to police by Electoral Commission". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  29. ^ "They Work For You". They Work For You. Retrieved 20 July 2019.
  30. ^ Arts Professional, Arts People, published 11 Nov 2016, https://www.artsprofessional.co.uk/magazine/faces/birmingham-mp-gisela-stuart-lead-chamber-choir
  31. ^ "Foreign & Commonwealth Office announce new Chair of Wilton Park". GOV.UK. Retrieved 10 May 2019.

External linksEdit

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Jill Knight
Member of Parliament for Birmingham Edgbaston
19972017
Succeeded by
Preet Gill