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John Alan Redwood (born 15 June 1951) is a British Conservative Party politician, and Member of Parliament (MP) for Wokingham in the county of Berkshire. He was formerly Secretary of State for Wales in Prime Minister John Major's Cabinet, and was twice an unsuccessful challenger for the leadership of the Conservative Party in the 1990s. He served in the Shadow Cabinets of William Hague and Michael Howard and has remained a backbencher since then.

The Right Honourable
John Redwood
Official portrait of John Redwood crop 2.jpg
Official parliamentary portrait, June 2017
Shadow Secretary of State for Deregulation
In office
6 May 2005 – 5 December 2005
Leader Michael Howard
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Position abolished
Shadow Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions
In office
15 June 1999 – 2 February 2000
Leader William Hague
Preceded by Gillian Shephard
Succeeded by Archie Norman
Shadow Secretary of State for Trade and Industry
In office
11 June 1997 – 15 June 1999
Leader William Hague
Preceded by Michael Heseltine
Succeeded by Angela Browning
Secretary of State for Wales
In office
27 May 1993 – 26 June 1995
Prime Minister John Major
Preceded by David Hunt
Succeeded by William Hague
Minister of State for Local Government
In office
15 April 1992 – 27 May 1993
Prime Minister John Major
Preceded by Michael Portillo
Succeeded by David Curry
Minister for Corporate Affairs
In office
26 July 1989 – 15 April 1992
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
John Major
Preceded by Francis Maude
Succeeded by Neil Hamilton
Downing Street Chief of Policy to the Prime Minister (Margaret Thatcher)
In office
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Member of Parliament
for Wokingham
Assumed office
11 June 1987
Preceded by William van Straubenzee
Majority 18,798 (31.5%)
Personal details
Born (1951-06-15) 15 June 1951 (age 66)
Dover, Kent, England
Political party Conservative
Alma mater Magdalen College, Oxford
All Souls College, Oxford

Redwood is a veteran Eurosceptic who has been described as a "pragmatic Thatcherite".[1] He has often been compared to a Vulcan, a comparison originally made by Matthew Parris, due to his appearance and intonation,[1] a preference for making arguments with logic over passion[2] and a reputation for being cold and humourless.[3]

He was the co chairman of the Conservative Party's Policy Review Group on Economic Competitiveness until 2010. He has the role of Chief Global Strategist of investment management company Charles Stanley & Co Ltd.

Redwood is a long term critic of the European Union and a member of the Eurosceptic pressure group Leave Means Leave.[4] He supported Brexit in the 2016 EU Referendum.


Early lifeEdit

John Redwood was born in Dover. The second child of William Redwood (1925—2016),[5] an accountant and company secretary, and his wife, Amy Emma (née Champion), the manageress of a shoe shop. He had an elder sister, Jennifer, who died as a baby in 1949.[6][7] He grew up in a council house, and describes his family buying their own house as a "big breakthrough" for the family[2]


Redwood was schooled at Kent College, Canterbury before reading a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in History at Magdalen College, Oxford and later obtaining a DPhil from All Souls College, Oxford.[8] He was elected to a fellowship by examination at All Souls in 1972 which led on later to a Distinguished fellowship.[9]

Political careerEdit

He was an Oxfordshire County Councillor between 1973 and 1977, the youngest ever at the age of 21 when elected, and contested Southwark, Peckham in October 1982 at the Peckham by-election, 1982 where he lost to Harriet Harman.[10]

From 1983 onwards he headed up Margaret Thatcher's policy unit,[1] where he was one of the champions of privatisation.[11]

Redwood became MP for Wokingham in June 1987. Redwood was made a Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in July 1989 for Corporate Affairs at the Department of Trade and Industry. In November 1990, he was promoted to Minister of State.

Redwood became Minister for Local Government and Inner Cities after the 1992 General Election where he oversaw the abolition of the Community Charge, known as the "Poll Tax", and its replacement with the Council Tax.

Redwood has voted against key LGBT rights questions, being opposed to attempts to reduce the age of consent for homosexuality in both 1994 and 1999, choosing to vote to keep Section 28 in November 2003[12] and general opposition to same-sex marriage. He also voted for the reintroduction of capital punishment in 1988, 1990 and 1994. Redwood has stated "I have never spoken or written against civil partnerships and gay marriage and am not proposing any change to current laws. I regard the debate about capital punishment as being over and do not support its reintroduction. I never spoke or wrote in its favour."[13][14][15]

In GovernmentEdit

In the Government reshuffle of May 1993, Redwood was appointed to the cabinet as Secretary of State for Wales.

According to some, he was energetic during his time as Secretary of State for Wales, while others consider it to be somewhat controversial. He deferred several road widening schemes which would have endangered the environment of rural areas in Wales.

In February 1995, he was at loggerheads with the Countryside Council for Wales because he had decided to cut its grant by 16%.[16] He also launched a scheme to provide more funding for popular schools with high numbers of applicants and concentrated extra expenditure on health and education services away from administrative overheads.

Redwood consequently gained a somewhat haughty reputation with apparent disregard for national feeling; this did not endear him further to some of the population, most memorably when in 1995 he returned £100,000,000 of Wales's block grant to the Treasury unspent.[17]

Redwood's made a gaffe in 1993 when he attempted to mime to the Welsh national anthem at the Welsh Conservative Party conference when he clearly did not know the words.[18] Redwood subsequently learned the anthem but, in August 2007, an unconnected news story on Redwood was illustrated with the same clip. This resulted in Tory activists filing complaints, and as a result the BBC apologised to Redwood for airing the dated footage.[19]

Leadership contests and subsequent careerEdit

When John Major called upon his critics to "put up or shut up" and tendered his resignation to allow for a leadership challenge, Redwood resigned from the Cabinet, and stood against Major in the subsequent party leadership election on 26 June 1995.[20] In the ballot held on 4 July 1995, Redwood received 89 votes, around a quarter of the then Parliamentary Party. Major received 218 votes, or two thirds of the parliamentary party vote.

The newspaper The Sun had declared its support for Redwood in the run up to the leadership contest, running the front-page headline "Redwood versus Deadwood".[21]

When Major resigned as party leader after the General Election defeat of May 1997, Redwood stood in the resulting election for the leadership, and was again defeated. After being defeated in the third round with 38 votes to Kenneth Clarke's 64 and William Hague's 62, Redwood surprisingly backed Clarke against Hague.[22]

Redwood was subsequently appointed Shadow Secretary of State for Trade and Industry by the victorious William Hague. He was appointed Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions in June 1999 but dropped in a mini reshuffle in February 2000, being succeeded by Archie Norman.

Under Michael Howard he was appointed Shadow Secretary of State for Deregulation.[23]


Redwood is a veteran Eurosceptic.[24] A critic of the Euro before its launch, Redwood suggested that the Eurozone should "break up" in 2011 and proposed that the UK should give up its veto in return for the ability to opt out of EU legislation.[25] Later that year he joined 81 rebel Conservative MPs in voting for an in-out referendum for leaving the European Union, saying afterwards "People used to call me an extreme Eurosceptic. Now I’m a moderate."[24] Before the Brexit referendum Redwood wrote that to Conservative Eurosceptics like him leaving the EU was "more important than which party wins the next election or who is the prime minister."[26]

Since then he has suggested UK need not prioritise a post-Brexit deal with the EU, and received criticism for writing an investment advice column which recommended investors "look further afield" than the UK. Redwood denied this interpretation as he simply advises investors of where international markets are heading and did not write an investment column “recommending investors pull their money out of the UK"[27][28]

Business careerEdit

John Redwood worked as an investment analyst, manager and director for Robert Fleming and for NM Rothschild in the 1970s and 1980s.[29] He cofounded Evercore Pan-Asset Capital Management Ltd in 2007, a financial management company which was subsequently sold to Charles Stanley[30] He is currently Chief Global Strategist at Charles Stanley & Co Ltd.[31] He was previously a non-executive chairman of Mabey Securities, an investment arm of the engineering firm Mabey.

Personal lifeEdit

He married Gail Felicity Chippington, a barrister, on 20 April 1974 in Chipping Norton; they had two children, Catherine (born 1978) and Richard (born 1982). They divorced acrimoniously in July 2003.[32][33][34]

In the mediaEdit

Redwood was interviewed about the rise of Thatcherism for the 2006 BBC television documentary series Tory! Tory! Tory!, and continues to appear regularly on television, such BBC's Question Time.



  1. ^ a b c Macintyre, Donald (10 July 1993). "Profile: Vulcan in the House: John Redwood - He has enemies in the party, but even they defer to his razor-sharp mind, writes Donald Macintyre". The Independent. Retrieved 13 November 2017. 
  2. ^ a b Davies, Ben (1 October 2004). "Interview: John Redwood". BBC. Retrieved 14 November 2017. 
  3. ^ "John Redwood". British Broadcasting Corporation, 'Politics 97'. 1997. Retrieved 12 November 2015. 
  4. ^ "Co-Chairmen - Political Advisory Board - Supporters". Leave Means Leave. 
  5. ^ "The death of William Redwood". 
  6. ^ "FreeBMD - Search". 
  7. ^ Deaths - England and Wales - July, August and September 1949
  8. ^ "About". Retrieved 2016-10-15. 
  9. ^ "All Souls College Oxford". Retrieved 2016-10-15. 
  10. ^ "Sheila Faith – obituary". The Daily Telegraph. 16 October 2014. Retrieved 22 October 2014. 
  11. ^ [ "John Redwood"] Check |url= value (help). BBC. 16 October 2002. Retrieved 14 November 2017. 
  12. ^ "John Redwood". Retrieved on 23 November 2015.
  13. ^ "John Redwood". Retrieved on 23 November 2015. John Redwood's Diary 17th February 2018 www.
  14. ^ "Leading Article: John Redwood's hasty credo". The Independent. 23 October 2011. Retrieved on 23 November 2015.
  15. ^ Nigel Farndale (12 November 2006). "Say no to gallows humour". Retrieved on 23 November 2015. John Redwood's Diary 17th February 2018 www.
  16. ^ Lean, Geoffrey (19 February 1995). "Greens attack Redwood policies". The Independent. London. 
  17. ^ "Labour scorns Tory no confidence threat". BBC News. Retrieved on 23 November 2015.
  18. ^ Lauren Niland. "Rick Perry's predecessors: when politicians forget". The Guardian. Retrieved on 23 November 2015.
  19. ^ "BBC: We were wrong to mock John Redwood". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 24 September 2013. 
  20. ^ "Conservative Party Leadership Election 1995". BBC. 1997. Retrieved 13 November 2017. 
  21. ^ Macintyre, Donald; Brown, Colin (27 June 1995). "PM assails 'malcontent' Redwood". The Independent. London. 
  22. ^ "John Redwood". BBC News. 1997. Retrieved 13 November 2017. 
  23. ^ Woolf, Marie (2 September 2004). "John Redwood: He's back as Red-Tape Man, the unlikeliest sex symbol in the universe". The Independent. Retrieved 13 November 2017. 
  24. ^ a b "Making the break". Economist. 8 Dec 2012. Retrieved 13 November 2017. 
  25. ^ Redwood, John. "Let's give up our EU veto and opt out instead". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 13 November 2017. 
  26. ^ Redwood, John (26 May 2016). "A vote to remain in the EU won't be the last we hear of Brexit". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 November 2017. 
  27. ^ Elgot, Jessica (13 November 2017). "John Redwood criticised over advice to pull money out of UK". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 November 2017. 
  28. ^ Coppola, Frances (12 November 2017). "British Lawmaker Advises Investors To Take Their Money Out Of The UK". Forbes. Retrieved 14 November 2017.  John Redwood's Diary 17th February 2018 www.
  29. ^
  30. ^ Hosking, Patricia (November 15, 2013). "Wealth group makes John Redwood richer". Times. Retrieved 14 November 2017. 
  31. ^
  32. ^ Brown, Colin (27 July 2003). "Redwood leaves his wife for former model Nikki Page". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 7 May 2010. 
  33. ^ Kite, Melissa (15 February 2004). "Redwood comes out fighting against ex-wife". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 7 May 2010. 
  34. ^ David Hencke, Westminster correspondent (28 March 2005). "Redwood's ex-wife debunks Vulcan jibe | UK news". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 September 2013. 

External linksEdit

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
William van Straubenzee
Member of Parliament
for Wokingham

Political offices
Preceded by
David Hunt
Secretary of State for Wales
Succeeded by
William Hague
Preceded by
Michael Heseltine
Shadow Secretary of State for Trade and Industry
Succeeded by
Angela Browning
Preceded by
Gillian Shephard
Shadow Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions
Succeeded by
Archie Norman
New office Shadow Secretary of State for Deregulation
Position abolished