John is 55, married with two teenage daughters. His interests include history, theatre/film and financial journalism. Nine state/grammar schools would worry some prospective employers, but 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 entered the City, running portfolios for charities and private clients - being a Director of Hendersons and then Rothschild Asset Management. He remains a member of the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investments (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 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. In the 2005 election, John was re-elected with a 6% swing. He moved from Health to join the Opposition Whips’ Office in the summer of 2007.
In the 2010 General Election, John won the re-drawn seat of Basildon and Billericay with a 9.2% swing. He left the Whips Office, and turned down a Cabinet PPS position, preferring instead to stand for election for the Foreign Affairs Select Committee on which he now sits.
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. More recently, he has 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).
John engineered a letter to the Prime Minster in June 2012, signed by 100 Conservative back-bench colleagues, calling for legislation in this Parliament for an in/out referendum in the next. 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 this Parliament. He is chairman of the APPG for an 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.
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 is spearheading a campaign for greater Government recognition of our Nuclear Test Veterans
He was chosen as the BBC’s ‘Parliamentarian of Year’ for 2013/14 (Click here for more information).