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Robert Goodwill MP (born 31 December 1956) is a British Conservative Party politician and farmer. He has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Scarborough and Whitby since 2005. He was previously a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for Yorkshire and the Humber. He has had several ministerial positions, most recently as Agriculture, Fisheries & Food Minister at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.[1]

Robert Goodwill

Official portrait of Mr Robert Goodwill crop 2.jpg
Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries & Food
In office
5 March 2019 – 25 July 2019
Prime MinisterTheresa May
Preceded byGeorge Eustice
Succeeded byGeorge Eustice
Minister of State for Children and Families
In office
12 June 2017 – 9 January 2018
Prime MinisterTheresa May
Preceded byEdward Timpson
Succeeded byNadhim Zahawi
Minister of State for Immigration
In office
16 July 2016 – 11 June 2017
Prime MinisterTheresa May
Preceded byJames Brokenshire
Succeeded byBrandon Lewis
Minister of State for Transport
In office
9 December 2015 – 16 July 2016
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Preceded byJohn Hayes
Succeeded byJohn Hayes
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport
In office
7 October 2013 – 9 December 2015
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Preceded byNorman Baker
Succeeded byThe Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Lord Commissioner of the Treasury
In office
4 September 2012 – 7 October 2013
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Preceded byJames Duddridge
Succeeded byKaren Bradley
Member of Parliament
for Scarborough and Whitby
Assumed office
5 May 2005
Preceded byLawrie Quinn
Majority3,435 (6.8%)
Member of the European Parliament
for Yorkshire and the Humber
In office
15 July 1999 – 1 May 2004
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byGodfrey Bloom
Personal details
Born (1956-12-31) 31 December 1956 (age 62)
Terrington, England
Political partyConservative
Spouse(s)Maureen Short
Alma materNewcastle University
WebsiteOfficial website

Goodwill is a member of the Cornerstone Group of Conservative MPs. He describes himself as a "staunch Eurosceptic"[2] but supported Remain in the EU referendum.[3]

Early lifeEdit

Goodwill was born in Terrington, North Riding of Yorkshire, and was privately educated at the Quaker Bootham School[4] in York, and the University of Newcastle upon Tyne where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in agriculture in 1979.[citation needed] He has been the managing director of Mowthorpe (UK) Ltd since 1995 which offers environmentally friendly burials in the North Yorkshire countryside.[5]

Political careerEdit

Goodwill is a member of the Conservative Party, and contested his first constituency - Redcar - at the 1992 general election, where he finished second, 11,577 votes behind the sitting Labour MP Mo Mowlam. He unsuccessfully contested Cleveland and Richmond at the 1994 European election. He again attempted to enter the House of Commons at the 1997 general election when he was selected for the marginally held Conservative seat of North West Leicestershire following the deselection[citation needed] of the sitting MP David Ashby. Goodwill was defeated by Labour's David Taylor by 13,219 votes. In 1998, he contested the Yorkshire South European Parliament by-election, but was again defeated.

He was elected as a Member of the European Parliament at the 1999 European Parliament election for the Yorkshire and the Humber region, serving in Brussels and Strasbourg until the 2004 European Parliament election. He was Deputy Leader of the Conservative MEPs during his term, and also opposed the Conservative Party's membership of the European People's Party in the European Parliament.[6]

From 1999 to 2004, he was a member of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Policy, and from 2001 to 2004 was a member of the Committee on Women's Rights and Equal Opportunities.[7]

In September 2001, he participated in the European Parliament Observer Mission on the Presidential Election in Belarus.[8] In 2003, Goodwill criticised the Council of the European Union's proposal to ban smoky bacon flavoured crisps, calling it "over the top" and "disproportionate to the possible risks."[9] During the 2004 European Parliament election campaign, The Guardian classed Goodwill as "pro-war" as a result of his supporting a motion in the European Parliament that said the Iraq War was inevitable and the result of Saddam Hussein's actions.[10]

In the 2005 general election, Goodwill stood in the constituency of Scarborough and Whitby, winning the seat from the Labour incumbent Lawrie Quinn by 1,245 votes. He made his maiden speech on 6 June 2005.

In August 2005, Goodwill co-authored a letter to The Spectator with five other newly elected Conservative MPs, criticising the "decadent" nature of British society.[11] In the 2005 Conservative Party leadership election, Goodwill supported Liam Fox's candidacy, declaring his support on 14 October 2005.[12][13]

After spending 18 months as a member of the Transport Select Committee, he was appointed an Opposition Whip by David Cameron in 2006 and promoted to the post of Shadow Roads Minister in the Transport team in 2007. He was re-elected with an increased majority of 8,130 at the 2010 general election and appointed to the Government as a Whip with responsibility for Treasury and DEFRA business. Goodwill is secretary of the All Party Parliamentary Flag Group.[14]

In the October 2013 ministerial reshuffle he became Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, replacing Norman Baker.[15] Goodwill was given responsibility for aviation policy[16] Goodwill had previously established himself as a strong opponent of a third runway at Heathrow, inviting Greenpeace members to plant a tree in his constituency as a gesture of "solidarity" with opponents of Heathrow expansion.[16] Goodwill was re-appointed to his position as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport following the 2015 general election and the election of a Conservative majority government. He was the minister responsible for cycling, aviation, road safety, walking and High Speed 2.[17] He was promoted to Minister of State at the Department of Transport in December 2015.

In January 2016, the Labour Party unsuccessfully proposed an amendment in Parliament that would have required private landlords to make their homes "fit for human habitation". According to Parliament's register of interests, Goodwill was one of 72 Conservative MPs who voted against the amendment who personally derived an income from renting out property. The Conservative Government had responded to the amendment that they believed homes should be fit for human habitation but did not want to pass the new law that would explicitly require it.[18]

In the 2016 European Union membership referendum, in which the UK voted to 'Leave' the EU by 52% to 48%, Goodwill supported a 'Remain' vote[3] despite stating on his own website he was a "staunch Eurosceptic".[2]

In the Conservative Party leadership election following David Cameron's resignation as Prime Minister, Goodwill supported Liam Fox's candidacy, acting as his proposer (Fox was eliminated in the first round of voting). The eventual winner, Theresa May, moved Goodwill to the Home Office, where he assumed the role of Minister of State for Immigration.[19] In the cabinet reshuffle following the 2017 general election, Goodwin was appointed as education minister (Goodwill was succeeded by Policing Minister Brandon Lewis).

Goodwill was sacked from the post of Children's minister on 9 January 2018.[20]

Goodwill joined the Environmental Audit Select Committee on 22 January 2018, and the Northern Ireland Affairs Select Committee on 5 March 2018. He remained on these two committees until he, he rejoined the government in March 2019 when he became Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries & Food, replacing George Eustice who had resigned over Brexit.


In 2000 whilst working as a Conservative MEP, Goodwill highlighted the generous allowances given to MEPs which sparked controversy when he was quoted as saying "I fly from Leeds/Bradford to Brussels and we get a set fee of around £500, but if I buy a cheaper ticket, economy class for about £160 and £250, I can pocket the difference and, as a capitalist, also as a British Conservative, I see it as a challenge to buy cheap tickets and make some profit on the system".[21]

Labour called this proof that sleaze was "alive and well" within the Conservative party whilst the Conservative Party itself condemned his actions saying "the party does not endorse the fiddling of expenses or the impression given that the system should be made available for personal profit". Goodwill later donated £2,000 to local charities following feedback from constituents.[22]

In 2013, following on from a review of capital gains made by MPs from their tax-payer funded second homes, the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority ordered Goodwill to repay £4,963.39.[23]

Personal lifeEdit

He married Maureen Short in November 1987 in North Yorkshire and they have two sons (born May 1989 and June 1991) and a daughter (born May 1994). He employs his wife as a part-time caseworker on a salary just under £30,000.[24]

He was once the chairman of the cereals and livestock committee of the North Yorkshire National Farmers Union 1986-8. He takes a keen interest in steam engines and owns several; he once brought an engine back from the former Czechoslovakia to restore it.[citation needed] He stepped in to save the Scarborough Pleasure Ship, Coronia, in January 2011 so that the historic, Dunkirk-veteran vessel can continue to be based in the harbour there.[25] He speaks French, German and some Russian.


  1. ^ "Robert Goodwill MP: Current Roles". UK Government.
  2. ^ a b "About Robert". Robert Goodwill. Retrieved 14 November 2016.
  3. ^ a b
  4. ^ Woodland, Jenny (2011). Bootham School Register. York, England: BOSA.
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ "Head-to-head: Should Tories quit the EPP?". BBC News. 6 June 2006. Retrieved 28 May 2015.
  7. ^ "Robert Goodwill". European Parliament MEPs. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  8. ^ "Press statement by the European Parliament Observer Mission on the Presidential Elections in Belarus" (PDF). European Parliament. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  9. ^ "Smoky bacon flavour may be banned". BBC News. 6 May 2003. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  10. ^ Hussain, Nasser (7 June 2004). "Iraq: how your MEP voted". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  11. ^ "Muslims 'right about decadent UK'". BBC News. 11 August 2005. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  12. ^ "Fox closes in on Clarke". Conservative Home. 14 October 2005. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  13. ^ "Tory leadership: Who backs whom?". The Guardian. 20 October 2005. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  14. ^ UK Parliament - Register of All Party Groups
  15. ^ "Norman Baker leaves Transport Department in reshuffle". Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation. 9 October 2013. Archived from the original on 4 December 2013. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  16. ^ a b Morris, Nigel. "New aviation minister Robert Goodwill opposed third runway at Heathrow". The Independent. Retrieved 25 March 2015.
  17. ^ MacMichael, Simon (13 May 2015). "Robert Goodwill reappointed minister for cycling". Retrieved 28 May 2015.
  18. ^ "Tories vote down law requiring landlords make their homes fit for human habitation". Independent. 9 November 2012. Retrieved 28 March 2019.
  19. ^ Ashmore, John (16 July 2016). "Leave campaigners among junior ministerial appointments as Remainers resign". Politics Home. Retrieved 21 July 2016.
  20. ^ "Children's minister Robert Goodwill sacked". Schools Week. 9 January 2018. Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  21. ^ Independent - Tory MEP admits he profited on expenses
  22. ^ Yorkpress - Goodwill gesture
  23. ^ Real Whitby - Pay-back time for Goodwill
  24. ^ "IPSA". GOV.UK. Retrieved 26 March 2018.
  25. ^ "MP Robert Goodwill saves The Coronia". Gazette & Herald. 2 February 2011. Retrieved 4 June 2015.

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