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Jess Phillips

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Jessica Rose Phillips (née Trainor; born 9 October 1981) is a British Labour Party politician who has been the Member of Parliament for Birmingham Yardley since 2015.

Jess Phillips
Official portrait of Jess Philips.jpg
Member of Parliament
for Birmingham Yardley
Assumed office
7 May 2015
Preceded byJohn Hemming
Succeeded byElection in progress
Majority16,574 (37.2%)
Personal details
Jessica Rose Trainor[1]

(1981-10-09) 9 October 1981 (age 38)[2][3]
Birmingham, England
Political partyLabour
Spouse(s)Tom Phillips
Children2 sons
Alma mater

Early life and careerEdit

The youngest of four children, Phillips is the daughter of Stewart Trainor, a teacher, and Jean Trainor (née Mackay), who was deputy chief executive of the NHS Confederation and chair of South Birmingham Mental Health Trust.[4][5][6] They were politically active: "Growing up with my father was like growing up with Jeremy Corbyn" she told Rachel Cooke of The Observer in March 2016.[7] Phillips went to King Edward VI Camp Hill School for Girls, a local grammar school.[7][8] Her childhood ambition was to become Prime Minister.[7]

Phillips studied economic and social history and social policy at the University of Leeds from 2000 to 2003. She marched in protest against the Iraq War.[9] From 2011 to 2013, she studied for a postgraduate diploma in public sector management at the University of Birmingham.[10]

Phillips worked for a period for her parents at their company, Healthlinks Event Management Services.[10] From 2010 onwards, Phillips worked for the Women's Aid Federation of England,[7] as a business development manager, responsible for managing refuges for victims of domestic abuse in Sandwell in the West Midlands.[11][12][13][14]

Phillips left the Labour Party during the years of Tony Blair's leadership, rejoining after the 2010 general election. She told Rachel Cooke in her interview in The Guardian that her departure was because her parents stopped paying her membership direct debit.[7] Her period at Women's Aid made Phillips "utterly pragmatic... I learned that my principles don't matter as much as [people's] lives."[7] In the 2012 local elections, she was elected as a Labour councillor for the Longbridge ward, taking the seat from the Conservatives.[15] She was then appointed as the victims' champion at Birmingham City Council, lobbying police and criminal justice organisations on behalf of victims.[13][14][16][17] She also served on the West Midlands Police and Crime Panel.[10]

Parliamentary careerEdit

2015 parliamentEdit

Phillips was selected from an all-women shortlist[18] to contest Birmingham Yardley in June 2013, which was represented by John Hemming of the Liberal Democrats.[19] In the 2015 general election, with an 11.7% swing away from the Liberal Democrats, Phillips received 17,129 votes (41.6%) and achieved a 6,595-vote majority (16.0%) over her closest rival.[20][21] Her maiden speech concerned homelessness and "improving [Britain]’s response to victims of domestic and sexual violence and abuse in all its forms."[22] In the 2015 Labour leadership election, Phillips nominated Yvette Cooper for Labour leader and Tom Watson for deputy leader.[23][24]

Positions and party issuesEdit

Phillips was appointed Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to Lucy Powell, then Shadow Education Secretary, in September 2015.[25]

Phillips verbally clashed with fellow Labour MP Diane Abbott on 14 September 2016 over the gender composition of Jeremy Corbyn's first shadow cabinet. After she asked Corbyn why he had failed to appoint a woman to shadow the great offices of state, Abbott accused her of being "sanctimonious" and pointed out that Phillips was "not the only feminist in the PLP (Parliamentary Labour Party)." Corbyn did not intervene.[26] Owen Bennett wrote in The Huffington Post that Phillips recounted: "I roundly told her to fuck off." When asked what Ms Abbott did after that suggestion, Ms Phillips replied: "She fucked off."[27] According to Diane Abbott in a January 2018 Guardian interview: "Jess Phillips never told me to fuck off. What was extraordinary is that she made a big deal of telling people she had."[28] Phillips later apologised.[29]

Phillips told Owen Jones in December 2015 that she had told Corbyn and his staff "to their faces: "The day that ... you are hurting us more than you are helping us, I won't knife you in the back, I'll knife you in the front," if it looked as though he was damaging Labour's chances of winning the next general election.[30] Responding to criticism about her use of language, Phillips said on Twitter: "I am no more going to actually knife Jeremy Corbyn than I am actually a breath of fresh air, or a pain in the arse."[30]

In June 2016, she resigned as PPS to Lucy Powell, the Shadow Education Secretary, following the resignation of Powell and other Shadow Cabinet members over the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn.[31] In July 2016, Phillips threatened to resign from the Labour Party and sit as an independent MP if Corbyn was re-elected as leader of the party, stating she would find it "incredibly difficult" to continue serving under Corbyn's leadership.[32] She supported Owen Smith in the failed attempt to replace Jeremy Corbyn in the 2016 Labour Party (UK) leadership election.[33]

In September 2016, she was elected chair of the Women's Parliamentary Labour Party (WPLP), defeating her predecessor Dawn Butler, considered a Corbyn ally.[34][35]

Phillips has commented that the "British Pakistani-Bangladeshi community" have "issues about women's roles in a family, in society." and were importing "wives for their disabled sons."[36]

She is a member of Labour Friends of Israel.[37]


In October 2015, Phillips sparked a social media storm after she mocked the Conservative MP Philip Davies for trying to get a debate about International Men's Day. He cited men's issues like increasing male suicides, lower life expectancy relative to women, male victims of domestic violence, low educational achievement by working class white boys and male experience of child custody cases.[38] Phillips openly laughed and pulled faces while Davies spoke, and then stated that: "You’ll have to excuse me for laughing. As the only woman on this committee, it seems like every day to me is International Men’s Day."[39][40] Davies responded by stating that, "If a male MP had reacted in that way about the need for debate on International Women's Day, there would have been hell to pay. It's entirely possible you'd be removed from Chambers or have the Whip removed. I'm surprised she finds that a laughing matter."[38][39] Colleagues from both leading parties agreed with Davies, and permission for a debate in Westminster Hall on 19 November 2015 was eventually granted.[40] She wrote in The Independent on 19 November: "I commend Philip Davies for changing the thrust of the debate to focus on male suicide — but in and of itself this day serves no useful function".[41]

In January 2016, Phillips said on Question Time that events akin to the mass sexual assaults in Cologne happened every week on Birmingham's Broad Street. She insisted any "patriarchal culture" must be challenged, but the UK should not "rest on its laurels" when two women are murdered every week.[42] In response to criticism she told the Birmingham Mail: "This isn’t something that refugees have brought into our country. This is something that’s always existed".[43][44] Journalist Joan Smith criticised these remarks and asked Phillips to admit she was wrong.[45]

Phillips criticised the gender makeup of Labour's Shadow Cabinet reshuffle in January 2016.[46][47]

Online abuseEdit

Phillips has frequently been targeted for abuse by anonymous users on social media.[48][49] In 2015, she was subjected to rape threats on social media following her objections to International Men's Day.[50][29] In May 2016, after campaigning against online bullying, Phillips said she received thousands of threatening or demeaning tweets within a 36-hour, including allusions to rape.[51] After she complained to Twitter and was told the tweets did not break its rules, she accused the company of "colluding" with her abusers.[52][53]

In response to the murder of her friend, Labour MP Jo Cox, in June 2016, Phillips stated that it "makes me want to fight harder". She wrote that they both regularly received online abuse and threats.[54] In August 2016, she told The World at One on Radio 4 that a "panic room" was being installed in her constituency office which now has an alarm system, and that improved locks have been fitted at her home.[55][56]

In an interview with Stylist, published in October 2019, Phillips said of the hate she's experienced, "Fear and hatred can be the things that drive you. I don’t always think of fear as a bad thing, it gives you fight-or-flight".[56]

2017 parliamentEdit

Phillips criticised the calling of the 2017 snap election.[57] She was reselected as the Labour candidate for Birmingham Yardley, while her predecessor as MP for the seat John Hemming was reselected by the Liberal Democrats, in what was reported as a "grudge match".[58] Phillips subsequently gained 25,398 votes (57.1%), increasing her majority to 16,574 votes (37.2%) over the second-place Tory candidate, with the Lib Dems finishing in third place.[59] Upon her victory, she continued her criticisms of Hemming.[60]

Following the 2017 snap general election, Phillips said the Women's PLP would co-ordinate to promote policies beneficial to women in the context of a hung parliament.[61]

In July 2017, Phillips called for a review into elections for chairs of House of Commons select committees due to the relatively low number of female candidates.[62]

In March 2018, Phillips again threatened to resign from the Labour Party, this time in response to Labour's handling of sexual harassment allegations against Labour MP Kelvin Hopkins, stating that she would "cut up her membership card" if the alleged victim was questioned by Hopkins as part of the investigation.[63]

In July 2018 it was reported that Phillips served as deputy editor of The House, the in-house Parliamentary magazine published by the Dods Group, which had been purchased by Conservative Party donor and former Tory vice-chairman Michael Ashcroft, earning an annual salary of £8,000 for two hours' work per month.[64]

In March 2019, she said: "I think I'd be a good prime minister" and that "I feel like I can't leave the Labour Party without rolling the dice one more time. I owe it that. But it doesn't own me. It’s nothing more than a logo if it doesn't stand for something that I actually care about – it’s just a f***ing rose."[65][66]

Phillips also said in March 2019 that she would "leave her son on the steps of Downing Street" after it was announced that her son's school would finish earlier on a Friday due to budget cuts.[67][68]

In 2019, a controversy emerged as local Muslim parents in Saltley, Birmingham, associated with the Parkfield Community School, objected to lessons on relationships and inclusivity, which opponents argued was introducing sexuality to very young children, being taught to their primary school children as part of Andrew Moffat's "No Outsiders" programme, on the grounds that LGBT relationships were immoral: one campaigner stated “Morally, we do not accept homosexuality as a valid sexual relationship to have.”[69] Phillips spoke out publicly against the objecting parents, claiming to feel "bereft about this" and that the material was in her view not "inappropriate."[70] Phillips called for an exclusion zone to prevent protests outside Anderton Park Primary School in Balsall Heath against lessons on inclusivity.[71]

In October 2019, Phillips said that she thought that Labour is unlikely to win a majority in a general election and that, if Labour is not the biggest party, Corbyn should resign as party leader, whereupon she might stand for the position.[72]


On 23 February 2017, her first book, Everywoman, One Woman's Truth About Speaking the Truth, was published by Penguin Books.[73][74] In May 2019, the book was optioned to be adapted as a television drama by RED Production Company.[75]

Her second book, Truth to Power: 7 Ways to Call Time on B.S., was published by Octopus on 3 October 2019.[76]

Personal lifeEdit

Phillips is married to Tom Phillips; the couple have two sons.[6] Phillips employed her husband, previously a lift engineer, as constituency support manager until February 2019.[77][78][79]

Former professional footballer Kevin Phillips is her cousin-in-law.[80]


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  2. ^ Jess Phillips [@jessphillips] (19 November 2015). "I was born in 1981" (Tweet). Retrieved 12 April 2016 – via Twitter.
  3. ^ Jess Phillips [@jessphillips] (9 October 2016). "My mother in law came over for Birthday breakfast" (Tweet). Retrieved 9 October 2016 – via Twitter.
  4. ^ "A new health role for Jean". Birmingham Evening Mail. 21 October 1998. Archived from the original on 27 August 2017. Retrieved 21 January 2017.
  5. ^ "Anger over plan to close four community hospitals". The Independent. 8 October 1997. Retrieved 13 March 2017.
  6. ^ a b Turner, Janice (26 August 2017). "Jess Phillips: 'Labour under Corbyn feels like I've been locked out of my home'". The Times. Retrieved 27 August 2017. (subscription required)
  7. ^ a b c d e f Cooke, Rachel (6 March 2016). "Jess Phillips: someone to believe in". The Observer. Retrieved 13 August 2016.
  8. ^ Scott, Danny (6 March 2016). "A Life in the Day: Jess Phillips, Labour MP". The Times. London. Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  9. ^ Sylvester, Rachel (24 September 2016). "I will say and do as I think. My job is not to pander to Corbyn". The Times. Retrieved 24 September 2016. (subscription required)
  10. ^ a b c Carr, Tim; Dale, Iain (2015). The Politicos Guide to the New House of Commons 2015: Profiles of the New MPs and Analysis of the 2015 General Election Results. London: Biteback Publishing. ISBN 978-1849549240.
  11. ^ Pidd, Helen (23 November 2015). "MP Jess Phillips: 'You have to be a remarkable woman to get to the top … average men get there all the time'". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 August 2016.
  12. ^ "Sandwell Womens Aid".
  13. ^ a b Elkes, Neil (24 June 2013). "Domestic violence campaigner Jess Phillips to take on 'love rat' John Hemming at next election". Birmingham Mail.
  14. ^ a b Elkes, Neil (10 May 2015). "New Yardley MP Jess Phillips will not be told to 'calm down dear' by Prime Minister". Birmingham Mail.
  15. ^ "Birmingham city council elections 2012: Full ward-by-ward results". Birmingham Mail. 3 May 2012.
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  20. ^ BBC News Online Retrieved 7 September 2019. Missing or empty |title= (help)
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  22. ^ "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 28 May 2015 (pt 0003)". Hansard.
  23. ^ Neil Elkes (14 May 2015). "New Yardley MP backs Yvette Cooper for Labour leadership". Birmingham Mail.
  24. ^ "Who nominated who in the 2015 Labour deputy leadership election?". New Statesman. 17 June 2015.
  25. ^ "Jeremy Corbyn appoints Steve Rotheram as his Parliamentary aide". The Huffington Post UK. 30 September 2015.
  26. ^ Dathan, Matt (15 September 2016). "Labour MP Jess Phillips told Diane Abbott to 'f*** off' in Jeremy Corbyn sexism row". The Independent. Retrieved 13 August 2016.
  27. ^ Bennett, Owen (17 September 2015). "Labour MP Jess Phillips: I Told Diane Abbott To F*ck Off During Feminism Row". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 30 January 2016.
  28. ^ Segalov, Michael (27 January 2018). "Diane Abbott: 'The abuse and the attacks have never made me falter'". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 February 2018.
  29. ^ a b "Labour MP Jess Phillips targeted by trolls after scoffing at men's rights debate request". ITV News.
  30. ^ a b Perraudin, Frances (14 December 2015). "Labour MP Jess Phillips will 'knife Corbyn in the front' if he damages party". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 August 2016.
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  32. ^ Walker, Jonathan (20 July 2016). "Jess Phillips says she could resign as Labour MP if Jeremy Corbyn wins". Retrieved 7 July 2018.
  33. ^ "Full list of MPs and MEPs backing challenger Owen Smith". LabourList. 21 July 2016. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
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  35. ^ Proctor, Kate (13 September 2016). "Labour women in fight for top job". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
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  37. ^ "LFI Supporters in Parliament". ”Labour Friends of Israel”. Retrieved 14 April 2019.
  38. ^ a b Wheeler, Brian (19 November 2015). "Guide to International Men's Day". Retrieved 25 November 2016 – via
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  40. ^ a b Dathan, Matt (11 November 2015). "Tory MP wins battle for International Men's Day debate in Parliament". The Independent. Retrieved 13 August 2016.
  41. ^ Phillips, Jess (19 November 2015). "We need International Men's Day about as much as white history month, or able body action day". The Independent. Retrieved 13 August 2016.
  42. ^ Staufenberg, Jess (29 January 2016). "Jess Phillips: Labour MP says mass Cologne sex attacks on women like 'Birmingham every weekend'". The Independent. Retrieved 17 January 2017.
  43. ^ Turner, Camilla (30 January 2016). "Labour MP faces calls to resign after comparing Cologne attacks to Birmingham night out". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2 March 2016.
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  45. ^ Smith, Joan (30 January 2016). "I'm a fan, Jess Phillips, but please admit you're wrong on Cologne sex attacks and violence against women". The Independent. Retrieved 2 March 2016.
  46. ^ Phillips, Jess (7 January 2016). "Why I won't shut up about misogyny and the left". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 August 2016.
  47. ^ McCann, Kate (8 January 2016). "Female Labour MP accuses Jeremy Corbyn of giving women 'a pat on the head'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 13 August 2016.
  48. ^ Syal, Rajeev (7 May 2019). "Police investigate Ukip candidate over Jess Phillips rape comments". The Guardian.
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  50. ^ Perraudin, Frances (30 October 2015). "MPs rally in support of colleague subjected to rape threats". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 October 2015.
  51. ^ "MP 'receives 5,000 abusive tweets'". BBC News. 31 May 2016.
  52. ^ Oppenheim, Maya (31 May 2016). "Labour MP Jess Phillips receives '600 rape threats in one night'". The Independent. Retrieved 1 June 2016.
  53. ^ Phillips, Jess (1 June 2016). "By ignoring the thousands of rape threats sent to me, Twitter is colluding with my abusers". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 1 June 2016.
  54. ^ Phillips, Jess (19 June 2016). "Jess Phillips MP: The death of my friend Jo Cox makes me want to fight harder". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
  55. ^ Asthana, Anushka (16 August 2016). "Labour MP Jess Phillips installing 'panic room' at office following threats". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
  56. ^ a b Fielding, Anna (2 October 2019). "Jess Phillips Interview on Brexit chaos, Boris Johnson and Corbyn". Stylist. Retrieved 8 October 2019.
  57. ^ Demianyk, Graeme (18 April 2017). "MP Says General Election Shows Westminster Doesn't Understand People". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 3 May 2017.
  58. ^ Elkes, Neil (24 April 2017). "General Election: It's John Hemming vs Jess Phillips in re-run of Yardley grudge match". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 3 May 2017.
  59. ^ "Birmingham Yardley Parliamentary constituency - Election 2017 - BBC News". BBC News. 6 December 2017. Retrieved 7 September 2019.
  60. ^ Elkes, Neil (9 June 2017). "Jess Phillips lays into rival John Hemming after victory". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 18 June 2017.
  61. ^ Asthana, Anushka (6 July 2017). "Labour's female MPs vow to use Commons strength to improve lives of women". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 July 2017.
  62. ^ Asthana, Anushka (11 July 2017). "MP Jess Phillips urges review to get more female committee chairs". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 July 2017.
  63. ^ Elgot, Jessica (22 March 2018). "Labour MPs angry over handling of harassment hearing". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 22 March 2018.
  64. ^ Hughes, Solomon (27 July 2018). "Moonlighting MPs bring Parliament into disrepute". Retrieved 29 July 2018.
  65. ^ Umunna, Chuka (11 March 2019). "Jess Phillips should not be attacked for making her loyalty to Labour conditional". The Independent. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  66. ^ Drury, Cloin (9 March 2019). "Tory MP Nick Boles denounced over 'creepy' tweet about Labour's Jess Phillips". The Independent. Retrieved 9 March 2019.
  67. ^ "MP Jess Phillips to 'leave son' outside No 10 in protest against budget cuts forcing schools to close early". The Independent. 12 March 2019. Retrieved 13 March 2019.
  68. ^ Weale, Sally (12 March 2019). "Jess Phillips to leave pupils outside No 10 in school cuts protest". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 13 March 2019.
  69. ^ Haynes, Jane (20 March 2019). "More Birmingham schools suspend No Outsiders LGBT lessons - this is why". birminghammail. Retrieved 6 May 2019.
  70. ^ "Jess Phillips's passionate response as Parkfield School 'halts LGBT lessons' after angry parent protests". Birmingham Live. 5 March 2019.
  71. ^ "Labour MP Jess Phillips in angry confrontation with anti-LGBT+ education protester outside Birmingham school". The Independent. 20 May 2019. Retrieved 12 June 2019.
  72. ^ McGuinness, Alan (12 October 2019). "Phillips says she could consider bid for Labour leader if Corbyn stands down". Sky News. Retrieved 12 October 2019.
  73. ^ "Everywoman by Jess Phillips – a life less ordinary". The Guardian. 6 March 2017.
  74. ^ "Everywoman One Woman's Truth About Speaking the Truth". Penguin Books. 23 February 2017.
  75. ^ "RED options MP Jess Phillips' book | The Bookseller". Retrieved 21 July 2019.
  76. ^ Truth to Power: 7 Ways to Call Time on B.S. 9 April 2019.
  77. ^ Walker, Jonathan (2 July 2015). "New MP Jess Phillips employs her husband as assistant in taxpayer-funded job". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
  78. ^ "House of Commons - The Register of Members' Financial Interests (1 July 2019: Phillips, Jess )". Retrieved 14 July 2019.
  79. ^ Aitkenhead, Decca (11 February 2017). "Jess Phillips: 'I never felt scared in my old job. As an MP, I feel it every day'". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 14 July 2019.
  80. ^ Jess Phillips [@jessphillips] (15 June 2014). "My husbands cousin is the footballer Kevin Phillips, this is only footie related talk ever muttered at home. #willnotbeabletojoininforawhile" (Tweet) – via Twitter.

External linksEdit