George Freeman (politician)

George William Freeman (born 12 July 1967) is a British Conservative Party politician who has served as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Mid Norfolk since 2010.

George Freeman

Freeman in 2020
Minister of State at the Department for Transport
In office
26 July 2019  13 February 2020
Prime MinisterBoris Johnson
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byAndrew Stephenson
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Life Sciences
In office
15 July 2014  15 July 2016
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byNicola Blackwood
Member of Parliament
for Mid Norfolk
Assumed office
6 May 2010
Preceded byKeith Simpson
Majority22,594 (40.2%)
Personal details
Born (1967-07-12) 12 July 1967 (age 53)
Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England
Political partyConservative
Alma materGirton College, Cambridge

Freeman was appointed as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Life Sciences in July 2014, and left the government when the office was closed in 2016. He was appointed chair of the Prime Minister's Policy Board in July 2016, and resigned in November 2017. He was a Minister of State at the Department for Transport from 26 July 2019 to 13 February 2020.

He is a founder of 2020 Conservatives group and a member of Bright Blue's advisory board.

Early life

Freeman was born on 12 July 1967 to jockey Arthur Freeman and Joanna Stockbridge.[1][2][3] His parents divorced soon after he was born, and he had no contact with his father until he reached adulthood, growing up as a ward of court.[1][4] Freeman would later buy at auction the trophy his father received as winner of the 1958 Grand National.[1]

He counts 19th-century Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone as his great-great-great-uncle, and Mabel Philipson as his great-aunt.[5][6][7] He was educated at Radley College and Girton College, Cambridge, graduating with a Geography degree in 1989.[3]

After university, Freeman worked in Westminster as a lobbyist for the National Farmers Union.[8] Before entering Parliament, he had a career in biomedical venture capital.[8]

Political career

Freeman stood unsuccessfully in Stevenage at the 2005 general election. He was subsequently added to the Conservative A-List, and was selected for Mid Norfolk in October 2006.

Freeman was elected in the 2010 general election as MP for Mid Norfolk. The previous incumbent, Keith Simpson, contested the neighbouring Broadland constituency instead.

Shortly after entering Parliament, Freeman was elected Chair of the All Party Group on Science and Technology in Agriculture. He was appointed Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Minister for Climate Change, Greg Barker MP, in the Coalition Government's first tranche of appointments. In July 2011, Freeman was appointed Government Life Science Advisor.

After a number of accidents on the A47 road in his constituency, Freeman campaigned for investment in safety.[9][10] The road was included in a programme of investment announced in December 2014.[11]

In 2014, he was appointed Minister for Life Sciences at the Department of Health and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.[12] The role had not previously existed in any country.[7] Freeman was nicknamed "High Tech Hezza", after Michael Heseltine whose former office he occupied while minister.[7] During this role, Freeman was criticised by Labour opponents for describing use of prosecutions to enforce the minimum wage as "the politics of envy".[13] In 2015, he asked the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency to establish an enquiry into disabilities caused by hormone pregnancy tests.[14]

Freeman is a co-founder of the 2020 Group of Conservative MPs, which he described as the "radical progressive centre ground" of the Conservative Party.[15]

Freeman chaired the Prime Minister's Policy Board until his resignation in November 2017.[16] He warned the party not to be defined by "nostalgia, hard Brexit, public sector austerity and lazy privilege".[17] In September 2018, he called for Prime Minister Theresa May's resignation once a deal on the UK's departure from the European Union was secured through Parliament.[18] He said he would stand to be her successor if supported by his party, before ruling out the possibility shortly afterward.[19][20]

Freeman founded The Big Tent Ideas Festival in 2017. The Big Tent is a charitable foundation dedicated to creating space for non-partisan conversations about big policy issues and to giving a voice to places and people left-behind, particularly focused on regeneration.

In 2018 Freeman set up The Bridge of Hope, a charity that aims to "provide hope to those who have taken a stumble in life, through a meaningful, new career."

Personal life

Freeman was married to Eleanor from 1996 to 2016, and has two children.[3][21]

In 2020 Freeman married theatre director Fiona Laird


  1. Armytage, Marcus (17 December 2012). "National treasure finds its natural home as George Freeman MP stumps up for 1958 trophy". ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 16 September 2018.
  2. "George Freeman MP". BBC Democracy Live. BBC. Retrieved 25 July 2010.
  3. Who's Who. Retrieved on 17 June 2011.
  4. Freezer, David. "Three Norfolk MPs left shocked after meeting foster carers". Norwich Evening News. Retrieved 16 September 2018.
  5. Mance, Henry (5 August 2017). "Tory activists plan Conservative answer to Glastonbury". Financial Times. Retrieved 6 August 2017. Mr Freeman — a descendant of the Liberal prime minister William Gladstone and a former biotechnology investor — said he envisions the Conservative Ideas Festival as a “cross between Hay-on-Wye and the Latitude festival”.
  6. MP, George Freeman. "Yes this is my GreatAunt Mabel Philipson MP, first British @Conservatives Woman MP after #NancyAstor. Former GaietyGirl & ardent campaigner for children & disabilities. (Am working on her biography to publish later this year)@ConHistGrp @Women2Win @SophyRidgeSky".
  7. Pagano, Margareta (24 July 2014). "George Freeman: Just the man for a matter of life and death". The Independent.
  8. Armitstead, Louise (9 December 2012). "George Freeman unites science, business and NHS". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 26 February 2015.
  9. Gretton, Adam; Walsh, Peter (17 June 2013). "Family's tribute to Sprowston motorcyclist killed in A47 crash". Eastern Daily Press. Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  10. George, Martin. "Facebook appeal for blackspot action after man killed on A47 at Scarning, near Dereham". Norwich Evening News. Retrieved 16 September 2018.
  11. Graham, Georgia (1 December 2014). "£15 billion for road schemes: Where will they be?". ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 16 September 2018.
  12. "Battleground Anglia: Mid Norfolk". ITV News. Retrieved 16 September 2018.
  13. Dickson, Annabelle. "Conservative MP George Freeman "politics of envy" comment provokes Labour outrage". Eastern Daily Press. Retrieved 16 September 2018.
  14. Carding, Nicholas. "Mother searches for answers as inquiry is launched into disabilities caused by pregnancy tests". Eastern Daily Press. Retrieved 16 September 2018.
  15. Dominiczak, Peter (22 June 2014). "Tory plans for retired pensioners to retrain as teachers". ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 16 September 2018.
  16. "Theresa May's policy chief George Freeman resigns". 20 November 2017.
  17. "The head of Theresa May's policy unit just resigned". The Independent. Retrieved 16 September 2018.
  18. "Theresa May should sort Brexit deal and then go, former policy chief says". Sky News. Retrieved 15 September 2018.
  19. Porritt, Richard. "Norfolk MP: 'I'll stand to be next PM'". Eastern Daily Press. Retrieved 15 September 2018.
  20. Grimmer, Dan. "'I do NOT plan to stand' - Norfolk MP George Freeman rules out Conservative leadership bid".
  21. Sylvester, Rachel (11 June 2016). "Philip Green should remember that with privilege comes responsibility: Tory business minister George Freeman sends a moral message to big corporate chiefs". The Times.