John is 56, married with two daughters. His interests include history, theatre/film and financial journalism. After nine state/grammar schools, he finished his sixth form studies at Queen’s College, Taunton.
John studied Law, History and Politics at Cambridge and joined the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers in 1984. After Sandhurst, he served in Berlin and Northern Ireland as a platoon commander, then as a Captain with the United Nations in Cyprus, before finishing in Germany as the Battalion Operations Officer.
On leaving the Army in 1988, he ran a wide range of portfolios for charities and private clients as a Director of Hendersons and then Rothschild Asset Management. He remains a member of the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment (CISI).
Since leaving the City, he has assisted charities and individuals monitor their fund managers. He also writes for the FT’s Investors Chronicle magazine, donating his fee to charity, speaks at investment seminars, and has written the ‘FT Guide to Investment Trusts’.
John was the Conservative Parliamentary candidate in Basildon in 1997. He was elected as the Conservative MP for Billericay and District in 2001, and served on Parliament’s Education Select Committee before becoming a Shadow Health Minister in 2002. However, he resigned from the Front Bench in 2003 in order to vote against the Iraq war.
He was subsequently re-appointed as a Shadow Health Minister with responsibilities including cancer services and long-term conditions. He moved from Health to join the Opposition Whips’ Office in the summer of 2007.
In 2010, he left the Whips Office, and turned down a Cabinet PPS position, preferring instead to stand for election for the Foreign Affairs Select Committee upon which he now sits. John was re-elected at the General Election in 2015.
Parliamentary Interests and votes
John has been a critic of our foreign interventions during the last decade. In addition to voting against the invasion of Iraq, he opposed our deeper involvement in Afghanistan once al-Qaeda had been defeated – being the only Conservative MP to vote against our continued policy in the first ever vote on the issue in 2010. He was the only Conservative MP to vote against our Libyan intervention. (Click here for more information). John has also called for greater dialogue with Iran – sponsoring a House of Commons debate in 2012. He also campaigned and voted against armed intervention in Syria when Parliament was recalled in August 2013.
John has been critical of ever-closer political union within the EU, having voted against the previous Government on such issues as the Nice and Lisbon treaties. In the last Parliament, he voted against the coalition Government on various EU issues – opposing increased funding for the EU more than once (Click Here and Here for more information) and in favour of an in/out Referendum (Click Here for more information).
He successfully led the campaign in the last Parliament for an EU referendum which persuaded the Prime Minister to adopt the policy in time for the last General Election. He engineered a letter to the Prime Minster in June 2012, signed by 100 Conservative back-bench colleagues, calling for legislation in the last Parliament and for an in/out referendum in this. Meetings with the PM and colleagues followed. Having commended the Prime Minister on his Referendum decision, John tabled an amendment to the Queen’s Speech in 2013 which, being well supported, pushed the Government to support legislation in the previous Parliament. Following the Conservative victory at the last General Election, he is looking forward to the forthcoming EU referendum.
As Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Cancer (APPGC), John campaigns to improve cancer services (he was awarded the Breakthrough Breast Cancer’s 2012 Patsy Calton Award for his outstanding campaigning contribution).He campaigned for the lifting of the ban on NHS top-up payments (for which he was nominated a ‘Charity Champion’ in 2008) – the then Labour Government duly obliged.
The APPGC helped to persuade Government to introduce one-year cancer survival rate figures at both national and Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) level to promote Earlier Diagnosis cancer’s ‘magic key’. It has also been successful in getting staging and A&E admissions included as additional proxy measures in the CCG Outcomes Indicator Set, and recently persuaded NHS England to include local one-year cancer survival figures in the Delivery Dashboard of the CCG Assurance Framework.
John believes in the need to encourage civil liberties, freedom of speech and smaller government, lower taxes to encourage economic growth and a tougher law and order policy. He is pressing the Government for proper funding of our armed forces, and led the campaign in the last Parliament against the Government’s policy of replacing 20,000 Regular troops with 30,000 Reservists – a policy he continues to believe is flawed. Whilst welcoming the Government’s creation of an Aged Veterans’ Fund, following his campaign of recognition for our nuclear test veterans, he continues to monitor progress as Patron of the British Nuclear Test Veterans’ Association.
John was chosen as the BBC’s ‘Parliamentarian of Year’ for 2013/14 for his rôle in both the Syrian vote and the EU referendum campaign.
(Click here for more information).