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Phillip Lee (politician)

Phillip James Lee (born 28 September 1970) is a British doctor and Liberal Democrat politician. He was the Member of Parliament for the Bracknell constituency from the 2010 general election to the 2019 dissolution of parliament. He is standing for the neighbouring Wokingham constituency in the 2019 general election.

Dr Phillip Lee
Official portrait of Dr Phillip Lee crop 2.jpg
Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Justice
Assumed office
21 October 2019
LeaderJo Swinson
Preceded byChristine Jardine
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice
In office
17 July 2016 – 12 June 2018[1]
Prime MinisterTheresa May
Preceded byDominic Raab
Succeeded byEdward Argar
Member of Parliament
for Bracknell
In office
7 May 2010 – 6 November 2019
Preceded byAndrew MacKay
Personal details
Phillip James Lee

(1970-09-28) 28 September 1970 (age 49)
Taplow, Buckinghamshire, England[2]
Political partyLiberal Democrats
Other political
Conservative (1992–2019)
Spouse(s)Catherine Day
Alma materKing's College London
Keble College, Oxford
Imperial College London

Elected as a Conservative candidate, he served as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State responsible for youth justice, victims, female offenders and offender health at the Ministry of Justice.[3] He resigned from the government in July 2018 in response to the government's handling of Brexit.[4] On 3 September 2019, he resigned from the Conservative party to join the Liberal Democrats.[5]

Early life and careerEdit

Phillip Lee was born and raised in Buckinghamshire, England, and went to his local grammar school, Sir William Borlase's Grammar School in Marlow. Lee studied Human Biology and Biological Anthropology at King's College London and Keble College, Oxford, where his research interests included the psychodynamics of anti-Semitism; the psychology of the child sex offender; the influence of the pre-natal environment on adult disease; and infertility clinic outcomes.[6]

He went on to study medicine at Imperial College London[2] and qualified as a doctor in 1999. He has worked in hospitals across the Thames Valley, including Wexham Park Hospital, Stoke Mandeville Hospital, Wycombe Hospital, St Mark's (Maidenhead) and Heatherwood Hospital as well as at St Mary's Hospital, London. Lee qualified as a general practitioner (GP) in 2004 and continues to practise locally part-time.[7]

Political careerEdit

Conservative PartyEdit

Supporters of Lee's resignation stand at the 2018 People's Vote march

Lee's political career began in local politics. He joined the Conservatives in Beaconsfield in 1992, becoming a member of its executive board in 1997 and its deputy chairman in 2005. Lee ran successfully for the local council in 2001. In the 2005 general election, he campaigned as the party's candidate for what was the safe Labour seat of Blaenau Gwent in South Wales. After being appointed a priority national candidate on the party's first A-List in 2006,[8] Lee was elected in an open primary in 2009 to be the candidate to represent the local seat of Bracknell in Berkshire at the 2010 general election. The seven-person short-list also included prominent Conservative commentator Iain Dale, and Rory Stewart.[7][9] At the 2010 general election, Lee retained the seat for his party with a majority of 15,704 votes.[10]

Lee's parliamentary interests include:

He serves as a member of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee and has been at the forefront of questioning UK energy companies' price hikes.[11] Lee has called for energy efficiency to be the primary target of the UK Government's policy and supports increasing energy security with more nuclear power and an interconnector with Norway. He has drawn attention to the limited potential of free markets in the energy sector and called for cooperative ways of retailing and distributing electricity and gas.[12]
Lee warned in 2011 that the National Health Service as currently configured would not meet future demand for healthcare and has campaigned for healthcare services in the United Kingdom and funding to be reconfigured.[13] His 2012 publication "The Royal Thames Valley Hospital – a Vision of a Sustainable Healthcare Plan" is a comprehensive proposal for improving clinical outcomes while building capacity to meet future healthcare demand across the Thames Valley.[14] The Home Secretary, Theresa May, who is also a Thames Valley MP, gave the plan her support at a public meeting in January 2013.[15] Lee sparked controversy in 2013 when he suggested that provision of free medicine by the NHS would need to be restricted because Britons are less willing than previous generations to tolerate discomfort,[16] and again in 2014 when he called for migrants with HIV and Hepatitis B to be banned from entering the UK.[17] He proposed introducing individual healthcare statements in a Ten Minute Rule Bill in 2012.[18] In 2014, Lee stood for election as Chairman of the Health Select Committee, coming a close second.
At the Social Market Foundation fringe meeting at the 2017 Conservative party conference, he referred to pensions, health and social care as a Ponzi scheme which was about to collapse.[19]
Foreign affairs
Lee has served as Vice Chair of the Conservative Middle East Council since 2010. He has argued for a comprehensive approach to foreign policy, pointing out that energy policy should be an important element in foreign and defence policies.[20] In 2012, he warned of rising threats from China's domestic vulnerabilities.[21] He regularly participates in the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung's exchange programme with members of the German Bundestag and has called for a closer relationship with Germany.[22] He voted against military action in Syria in 2013 as he believed there needed to be a more thought-through strategy towards Syria and the wider region before the United Kingdom involved itself.[23] In July 2014, he argued for a strong response to the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 on Europe's border and for Britain's role in the world to be redefined saying, "I fear that because of our level of debt and of dependence, and our complete absence of any vision or leadership, we are being less of a country than we should be and most certainly less of a country than the globe desperately needs".[20]
Science, technology and space
Lee is Vice Chair of the Parliamentary Space Committee. Lee was also a member of the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology in the 2010–2015 Parliament. He has long campaigned for a British space port and supported Reaction Engines' breakthrough in aerospace technology with its SABRE. His 2011 Adjournment debate on microgravity spurred £60m state investment into the European Space Agency's ELIPS programme.[24] This funding played a significant part in the European Space Agency's decision to grant Timothy Peake a place in space. Lee was a Member of the Administration Committee from July 2010 to December 2012 and sits on the Parliamentary Medical Panel. He has driven improvements to mental health services for parliamentarians.[citation needed] Lee served as Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Environment Group (2010–2013).

Lee's voting record was loyal and rarely rebelled against the Conservative whip and has not voted against anything in the Conservative's manifesto.[25] However, he did not support the UK Government's High Speed 2 project which he said is of the past and not of the future, profligate and not a priority for infrastructure investment.[26] Neither did he support the UK Government's proposals for House of Lords reform or military action in Syria in 2013.[23] Lee abstained over Same-sex marriage legislation, noting that Parliament's role should be limited to legislating for equal civil union while calling on the Church to find a way to recognise same-sex relationships.[27][28]

In his constituency of Bracknell, Lee has campaigned for better services and facilities. He called for improved health service outcomes and in 2012 launched a plan to achieve this which would consolidate acute healthcare in a new, regional centre of excellence and deliver a greater proportion of care in the community – including through the recently opened Bracknell Urgent Care Centre.[14] He has lobbied for better transport links into, and across, the region and South West Trains is now increasing passenger rail capacity from Bracknell.[29] Lee supports expanding London Heathrow Airport and has endorsed the Heathrow Hub proposal to extend capacity[30] alongside the extension of Crossrail to Reading. Lee lobbied BT Group to improve the delivery of superfast broadband and coverage across the constituency is now almost 90%.[31]

Lee has spoken on the importance of MPs being "in touch". In his constituency, he reports annually to all constituents, holds quarterly public 'Question and Answer' open meetings as well as issues monthly e-newsletters.[citation needed]

Lee was opposed to Brexit prior to the 2016 referendum.[32] He resigned as a minister on 12 June 2018. In a widely reported resignation statement, he said that his reason was so he could "better speak up for my constituents and country over how Brexit is currently being delivered". He went on to warn that the current approach to Brexit would damage businesses in his constituency, and that he could not support the government's opposition to Parliament deciding what happens if it rejects the final deal "because doing so breaches such fundamental principles of human rights and Parliamentary sovereignty".[1] In early 2019 he became Chair of Right to Vote,[33] having already joined the People's Vote campaign for a public vote on the final Brexit deal between the UK and the European Union.[34] On 1 June 2019 Lee's local Conservative Association passed a motion of no confidence in Lee, due to clashes over Lee's stance on Brexit.[35]

Liberal DemocratsEdit

On 3 September 2019, Lee crossed the floor to join the Liberal Democrats during a speech by the Prime Minister over disagreements with the Conservative Party's handling of Brexit.[5][36] His resignation left the Conservative government with no working majority in the House of Commons.[37] In his letter of resignation to the Prime Minister, Lee stated that he had "reached the conclusion that it [was] no longer possible to serve [his] constituents' and country's best interests as a Conservative Member of Parliament."[38] He went on to state: "Sadly, the Brexit process has helped to transform this once great [Conservative] Party in to something more akin to a narrow faction, where an individual's 'conservatism' is measured by how recklessly one wishes to leave the European Union. Perhaps most disappointingly, it has increasingly become infected with the twin diseases of populism and English nationalism."[39] In the letter, Lee described the Liberal Democrats as being "best placed to build the unifying and inspiring political force needed to heal our divisions, unleash our talents, equip us to take the opportunities and overcome the challenges that we face as a society — and leave our country and our world in a better place for the next generations."[40]

Lee's admission to the Lib Dems caused a number of LGBT+ members to quit the party, due to their perception of his voting record on LGBT+ rights. Lee responded saying that his record on LGBT+ rights had been misrepresented.[41][42]

Lee is contesting the Wokingham constituency, adjoining his previous Bracknell seat and currently held by the strongly pro-brexit John Redwood, in the 2019 general election.[43][44]

Personal lifeEdit

Lee is a keen sportsman. He has played competitive football, and followed Queens Park Rangers F.C. since the age of six. He has played competitive rugby union for Marlow Rugby Union Football Club and was a member of Oxford University RFC and has also played cricket for the Old Grumblers. Lee played for the Conservative Party's Parliamentary football team and is a member of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Boxing.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b "Minister Phillip Lee quits over Brexit". BBC. 12 June 2018. Retrieved 12 June 2018.
  2. ^ a b "LEE, Phillip James". Who's Who. Retrieved 5 January 2013.
  3. ^ "Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Youth Justice, Victims, Female Offenders and Offender Health - GOV.UK".
  4. ^ "Ministerial Resignation Statement – Dr Phillip Lee MP – Caring for Bracknell Constituency". Bracknell Conservative Association. 12 June 2019. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  5. ^ a b Zeffman, Henry (3 September 2019). "NEW: Tory MP Phillip Lee just crossed the floor to join the Lib Dems during Boris Johnson's G7 statements". @hzeffman. Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  6. ^ "Phillip Lee". Retrieved 21 February 2019.
  7. ^ a b "Dr Phillip Lee – Caring for Bracknell Constituency : Biography". Bracknell Conservative Association. 1 January 2010. Retrieved 4 May 2010.
  8. ^ "ConservativeHome's Seats & Candidates blog: Where are the original A-Listers now? The 27 who are still looking for a seat". 23 April 2009. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 5 January 2013.
  9. ^ Fort, Hugh (12 October 2009). "Tory hopefuls stress links to Bracknell Forest". Bracknell Forest Standard. Retrieved 4 May 2010.
  10. ^ "Phillip Lee wins Bracknell General Election 2010". The Wokingham Times. 7 May 2010. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
  11. ^ Morris, Nigel (29 October 2013). "All in it together? Big Six energy chiefs feel heat from MPs". The Independent. London. Retrieved 10 September 2014.
  12. ^ "Only full-scale reform of our energy market will prevent endless price rises". The Guardian. 26 October 2013. Comment is free. Retrieved 10 September 2014.
  13. ^ Lee, Phillip (11 June 2014). "Daily Telegraph: The NHS is collapsing under the weight of demand". The Telegraph. London. Retrieved 10 September 2014.
  14. ^ a b "Bracknell News: MP plans hospital vision meeting". Bracknell News. 14 July 2012. Retrieved 10 September 2014.
  15. ^ "BBC News: Theresa May MP supports calls for new M4 hospital". 10 January 2013. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
  16. ^ Hope, Christopher (26 November 2012). "Spending on medicines must be cut because Britons cannot put up with aches and pains like their wartime forebears says Tory MP". The Daily Telegraph. London. Telegraph Media Group. Retrieved 21 November 2014.
  17. ^ "HIV positive immigrants should be banned from entering UK, Tory MPs say". HuffPost. 30 January 2014. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
  18. ^ "House of Commons: Summary Agenda Wednesday 22 February 2012". UK Parliament. 22 February 2012. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
  19. ^ "Tax-funded NHS a Ponzi scheme, says minister Phillip Lee". BBC News. 2 October 2017. Retrieved 14 October 2017.
  20. ^ a b "They Work For You: Backbench Business — Summer Adjournment". 22 July 2014. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
  21. ^ "ConservativeHome: Dr Philip Lee MP: China may be big – but it has big, big problems". 16 November 2012. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
  22. ^ "ConservativeHome: Dr Phillip Lee MP: When it comes to Germany, yesterday should be no guide for tomorrow". 28 November 2012. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
  23. ^ a b "The Telegraph: If we must fight in Syria, we must have a plan". London. 6 September 2013. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
  24. ^ "They Work For You: Microgravity Research". 13 September 2011. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
  25. ^ "They Work For You: Voting Summary". 5 May 2010. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
  26. ^ "They Work For You: High Speed Rail (London – West Midlands) Bill". 28 April 2014. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
  27. ^ "Voting Record – Phillip Lee MP, Bracknell". Retrieved 21 November 2014.
  28. ^ Lowther, Ed (5 March 2013). "Yes but, no but... MPs who vote both ways". BBC News. Retrieved 21 November 2014.
  29. ^ "MP Dr Phillip Lee campaigns for better train services to and from Bracknell". 5 May 2013. Retrieved 10 September 2014.
  30. ^ "They Work For You: Thames Valley, Berkshire". 1 May 2014. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
  31. ^ "Dr Phillip Lee hears broadband concerns". Get Reading. 31 July 2012. Retrieved 10 September 2014.
  32. ^ Goodenough, Tom (16 February 2016). "Which Tory MPs back Brexit, who doesn't and who is still on the fence?". The Spectator. Retrieved 11 October 2016.
  33. ^ Lee, Phillip (19 March 2019). "Letter to the Prime Minister from Dr Phillip Lee MP" (pdf). Letter to Theresa May. Retrieved 4 April 2019.
  34. ^ Wheeler, Brian (11 September 2018). "The Brexit factions reshaping UK politics". BBC News. Retrieved 15 September 2018. Sarah Wollaston, has joined the People's Vote campaign along with Phillip Lee and Guto Bebb
  35. ^ Perrin, Isabella (1 June 2019). "Bracknell Conservative Association pass motion of no confidence in Phillip Lee MP". Bracknell News. Newsquest Media Group Ltd. Retrieved 1 June 2019.
  36. ^ "Brexit: Tory MP defects ahead of crucial no-deal vote". BBC. 3 September 2019. Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  37. ^ "Boris Johnson loses majority after Tory MP defects during speech". The Independent. 3 September 2019. Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  38. ^ Lee, Dr Phillip (3 September 2019). "After a great deal of thought, I have reached the conclusion that it is no longer possible to serve my constituents' and country's best interests as a Conservative Member of Parliament. My letter to the Prime Minister". @DrPhillipLeeMP. Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  39. ^ Dwyer, Colin; Langfitt, Frank (3 September 2019). "Johnson To Call For Snap Election After Conservatives Suffer Key Parliamentary Defeat". Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  40. ^ Rosza, Matthew (3 September 2019). "A Conservative MP's defection just cost Boris Johnson his parliamentary majority". Salon. Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  41. ^ Powys Maurice, Emma (4 September 2019). "LGBT Liberal Democrats are quitting the party over the decision to admit 'homophobic' Phillip Lee". PinkNews. Retrieved 4 September 2019.
  42. ^ Proctor, Kate (16 September 2019). "Phillip Lee says record on LGBT rights has been misrepresented". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 November 2019.
  43. ^ "Wokingham has a new Liberal Democrat candidate ahead of general election concerns". 28 September 2019.
  44. ^ Buchan, Lizzy (28 September 2019). "Ex-Tory minister to contest Brexiteer John Redwood's seat for Lib Dems". The Independent.

External linksEdit

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Andrew MacKay
Member of Parliament for Bracknell
Succeeded by
Election in progress