Open main menu

Heidi Suzanne Allen (née Bancroft; born 18 January 1975)[1] is a British politician serving as Member of Parliament (MP) for South Cambridgeshire since 2015. She served as Leader of Change UK from March 2019 to June 2019.

Heidi Allen

Official portrait of Heidi Allen crop 2.jpg
Leader of Change UK
Acting
In office
29 March 2019 – 4 June 2019
SpokespersonChuka Umunna
Preceded byGavin Shuker &
Chuka Umunna
Succeeded byAnna Soubry
Change UK Spokesperson for Welfare, Pensions, Social Care and Business
In office
1 March 2019 – 4 June 2019
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byVacant
Member of Parliament
for South Cambridgeshire
Assumed office
7 May 2015
Preceded byAndrew Lansley
Majority15,952 (24.6%)
Personal details
Born
Heidi Suzanne Bancroft

(1975-01-18) 18 January 1975 (age 44)
Notton, West Yorkshire, England
Political partyIndependent
Other political
affiliations
Change UK (2019)
Conservative (until 2019)
Spouse(s)Phil Allen
EducationUniversity College London (BSc)
Websitehttps://www.heidiallen.co.uk/

Allen succeeded Andrew Lansley, the former Conservative Secretary of State for Health who had held the seat since its creation in 1997, following his retirement from the House of Commons in 2015.[2]

Previously a Conservative, Allen resigned from the party and joined The Independent Group on 20 February 2019. In a joint letter with fellow defectors Anna Soubry and Sarah Wollaston, she described how the leadership had allowed a "hard-line anti-EU awkward squad" to take over the party.[3] She was announced as interim leader of the group, now styled as Change UK, on 29 March 2019.[4] In June 2019, she left Change UK to sit as an independent MP.

Contents

Early life and careerEdit

Allen was born in Notton, a small rural village near Wakefield in West Yorkshire, and received a degree in astrophysics from University College London (BSc).

Allen worked in various corporate positions, including with ExxonMobil and the Royal Mail.[5] In 2008 she joined the family classic-motorcycle paints business, RS Bike Paint Ltd, established by her parents in 1978 and now run by her husband Phil Allen.

Allen has said she was inspired to become active in politics after watching the scenes of the Tottenham riots, and first became a councillor in St Albans. Allen served as a councillor for 18 months before making a bid to become an MP.[6]

Parliamentary careerEdit

In February 2014, Allen ran in an open selection process for the South East Cambridgeshire parliamentary constituency Conservative Party candidacy.[7] She was beaten by Lucy Frazer but there was initially a controversy about a possible miscount of votes on Frazer's selection.[8] Frazer was reaffirmed as the candidate in January 2015[9] and in October 2014, Allen was selected as prospective parliamentary candidate (PPC) for South Cambridgeshire.[10]

The seat was held by the Conservative Andrew Lansley, then a cabinet minister, who had decided to stand down at the 2015 general election.[11] Allen won the seat in the general election, increasing the Conservative majority and taking 51.1% of the votes cast. The nearest candidate was Labour who took 27.2% of the vote.[2]

In July 2015, Allen was elected to the Work and Pensions Select Committee.[12] Allen made her maiden speech before the House of Commons on 20 October 2015, when she detailed criticism of proposed cuts to tax credits, saying, 'because today I can sit on my hands no longer'. She wanted to criticise the proposed tax credit cuts and to intervene before it was 'too late' to stop the changes to tax credits, even though she did not wish to support the motion tabled by Labour because she disagreed with the party's overall stance,[13][14][15] whilst also not being in favour of the Government's motion over tax credit cuts.[16] Isabel Hardman of The Spectator described her speech as "truly brave" and "well argued".[17] Despite her speech, she voted in favour of tax credit cuts, in line with the Conservative whip.[18][19]

Allen supported continued membership of the European Union in the 2016 referendum.[20] Allen voted in favour of triggering article 50 in a vote in the House of Commons.[21]

On 5 December 2016, Allen announced her intention to put her name forward for the Conservative nomination for the election of Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough in May 2017. Allen proposed to combine the role with her current position as MP for South Cambridgeshire.[22] In January 2017, she failed to win the Conservative Party nomination for the role.[23]

In June 2017, Allen was re-elected as Member of Parliament for South Cambridgeshire in the snap general election. Over that summer it was mooted that Jacob Rees-Mogg would be a candidate for the leadership of the Conservative Party. Allen announced that if he became leader she would leave the party.[24]

In December 2017, Allen displayed tears during a House of Commons debate on Universal Credit after hearing fellow MP, Frank Field, describe how he had talked a man out of suicide.[25] The Department for Work and Pensions later stated that "the two examples that [Field] gave were not claimants on Universal Credit"[26] In the same month Allen voted along with fellow Conservative Dominic Grieve and nine other Tory MPs against the government, and in favour of guaranteeing Parliament a "meaningful vote" on any Brexit deal Theresa May might agree with Brussels.[27]

In June 2018, during a debate on changing the abortion laws in Northern Ireland following a referendum in the Republic of Ireland which would amend the Constitution of Ireland to allow terminations, Allen said that she had an abortion for health reasons when she was younger. She stated: "I was ill when I made the incredibly hard decision to have a termination: I was having seizures every day, I wasn't even able to control my own body, let alone care for a new life... I am a modern, progressive woman in this country and I am proud that this country is my home... How can it be that Northern Ireland will soon be the only part of Great Britain and Ireland where terminations are to all intents and purposes outlawed?"[28]

In September 2018, Allen spoke in favour of a second referendum on the UK leaving the European Union. Allen said she feared the danger to jobs and businesses in her constituency and the whole nation from leaving the EU without a deal. Allen blamed the party's Eurosceptic right-wing for the possibility of a no-deal Brexit, and called them "fiscally and economically irresponsible".[29] Allen said there was "no alternative other than asking – should we come to that, no deal, that looks like that's what's going to happen – then we need to go back to the public to decide what they want us to do next." Allen further said that a second referendum should include the option of staying in the EU under current terms.[30] In early 2019, she co-founded the group Right to Vote.[31]

The Independent GroupEdit

On 20 February 2019, Allen resigned from the Conservative Party, along with two other MPs from her party (Anna Soubry and Sarah Wollaston), joining the newly formed The Independent Group.[32] On 29 March 2019, it was announced that The Independent Group had applied to become a political party under the name Change UK, and that Allen would be appointed interim leader.[33]

In May 2019, Allen threatened to resign as leader during an internal party row about whether Change UK should back the Liberal Democrats in some regions at the European elections. Allen denied her party was in disarray.[34] In June 2019, she left Change UK to sit as an independent MP.[35]

Personal lifeEdit

Allen currently lives in Elsworth, Cambridgeshire with her husband Phil.[36] Her mother is German.[37]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Election 2015 – Cambridgeshire South". BBC. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  3. ^ "Three Tory MPs join breakaway group". 20 February 2019. Retrieved 21 February 2019.
  4. ^ "The Independent Group applies to be a political party – Change UK". Sky News. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  5. ^ "Heidi Allen – Member of Parliament for South Cambridgeshire". Retrieved 22 September 2015.
  6. ^ White, Debbie (16 January 2014). "St Albans councillor fails to win bid for safe Tory parliamentary seat". The Herts Advertiser.
  7. ^ Game, Chris (11 February 2014). "The Conservatives' disastrous primary election in South East Cambridgeshire should not deter other local parties from using primaries". democraticaudit.com. Democratic Audit UK.
  8. ^ Graham, Georgia (7 January 2014). "Voting miscount could mean wrong woman announced as Conservative parliamentary candiate [sic]". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 9 August 2017.
  9. ^ Merrick, Jane (12 January 2014). "The battle of the Tory women: Farcical scenes after 'invalid' vote to select candidate for safe seat". The Independent. Archived from the original on 9 August 2017.
  10. ^ Goodman, Paul (11 October 2014). "Heidi Allen wins South Cambridgeshire selection". Conservative Home.
  11. ^ Wallace, Mark (7 January 2014). "Alleged vote counting error throws South East Cambridgeshire Open Primary result into doubt". Conservative Home.
  12. ^ "Work and Pensions Committee – membership". UK Parliament. Retrieved 26 September 2015.
  13. ^ "MPs debate tax credits: 20 October 2015". parliament.uk. UK Parliament.
  14. ^ "Government narrowly win vote for tax credit cuts". ITV News. 20 October 2015.
  15. ^ "MP Heidi Allen warns tax credit cuts 'betray' Tory values". BBC News. 20 October 2015. Retrieved 21 October 2015.
  16. ^ "Tory MP speaks passionately against tax credits cuts. Before voting for them. Again". Political Scrapbook. 21 October 2015. Retrieved 21 October 2015.
  17. ^ Hardman, Isabel (21 October 2015). "Tory MP Heidi Allen's devastating attack on tax credit cuts". The Spectator. Archived from the original on 21 October 2015. Retrieved 21 October 2015.
  18. ^ Nagesh, Ashitha (23 October 2015). "Heidi Allen voted for the tax credit cuts after all after accusing George Osborne of betrayal". Metro.
  19. ^ "Heidi Allen – Spending on Welfare Benefits". They Work For You.
  20. ^ Dixon, Anabelle (9 November 2017). "40 Brexit troublemakers to watch". Politico. Retrieved 26 August 2018.
  21. ^ "Brexit vote: How did your MP vote on the the [sic] bill?". BBC News. 9 February 2017.
  22. ^ Comber, Ben (5 December 2016). "MP Heidi Allen will run for mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough". Cambridge Independent.
  23. ^ Lamy, Joel (16 January 2017). "Marco Cereste and MP Heidi Allen fail in bid to become elected mayor of Peterborough and Cambridgeshire". Peterborough Telegraph. Retrieved 16 January 2017.
  24. ^ Simons, Ned (14 August 2017). "Conservative MP Heidi Allen says she will quit party If Jacob Rees-Mogg is made leader". HuffPost.
  25. ^ Bowden, George (5 December 2017). "Tory MP Heidi Allen moved to tears after heartbreaking Universal Credit speech". HuffPost. Retrieved 6 December 2017.
  26. ^ "Any Questions". BBC News. Retrieved 15 December 2017.
  27. ^ Austin, Henry (13 December 2017). "Brexit vote: The 11 Tory rebel MPs who defeated the Government". The Independent. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  28. ^ Harriet Line (5 June 2018). "Heidi Allen reveals she had an abortion and her reasons for it". Cambridge News. Retrieved 5 June 2018.
  29. ^ Tory MP says she would back new Brexit vote The Guardian 29 September 2018
  30. ^ Brexit: Tory MP Heidi Allen would back another referendum BBC News. 29 September 2018
  31. ^ Lee, Phillip (19 March 2019). "Letter to the Prime Minister from Dr Phillip Lee MP" (pdf) (Letter). Letter to Theresa May. Retrieved 4 April 2019.
  32. ^ "Three MPs quit Tory party to join breakaway group". BBC News. 20 February 2019. Retrieved 20 February 2019.
  33. ^ "The Independent Group applies to be a political party – Change UK". Sky News. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  34. ^ Perraudin, Frances (22 May 2019). "Heidi Allen threatened to quit as Change UK leader over Lib Dem row". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 May 2019.
  35. ^ "Change UK loses six of its 11 MPs". BBC News. 4 June 2019. Retrieved 4 June 2019.
  36. ^ "Home". www.heidiallen.co.uk.
  37. ^ Kinchen, Rosie (10 June 2018). "Heidi Allen: Call me an emotional fool, but the moment came and I had to grab it". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 21 May 2019.

External linksEdit