Gisela Stuart


Gisela Stuart, Baroness Stuart of Edgbaston (née Gschaider; born 26 November 1955) is a British-German politician and life peer who served as Member of Parliament (MP) for Birmingham Edgbaston from 1997 to 2017. A former member of the Labour Party, she now sits as a non-affiliated member of the House of Lords.


The Baroness Stuart
of Edgbaston

Stuart in 2020
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health
In office
29 July 1999  8 June 2001
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Sec. of StateFrank Dobson
Alan Milburn
Preceded byThe Baroness Hayman
Succeeded byHazel Blears
Member of the House of Lords
Lord Temporal
Assumed office
17 September 2020
Life Peerage
Member of Parliament
for Birmingham Edgbaston
In office
1 May 1997  3 May 2017
Preceded byJill Knight
Succeeded byPreet Gill
Personal details
Born
Gisela Gschaider

(1955-11-26) 26 November 1955 (age 65)
Velden, Bavaria, West Germany
CitizenshipBritish
Political partyIndependent (2020-present)
Labour (1994-2019)
Spouse(s)
  • Robert Stuart
    (m. 1980; div. 2000)
  • Derek Scott
    (m. 2010; died 2012)
Children2
Alma mater
OccupationChair, Change Britain
WebsiteOfficial website

Born and raised in West Germany, Stuart moved to the United Kingdom in 1974. Elected for Birmingham Edgbaston at the 1997 general election, she was Chair of the Vote Leave Campaign Committee and was one of its most high-profile figures, along with the Conservative MPs Boris Johnson and Michael Gove. The Vote Leave campaign was successful in achieving its goal at the 2016 United Kingdom European Union membership referendum of winning a majority of votes for Leave. Since September 2016, she has served as Chair of Vote Leave's successor organisation, Change Britain.

After she left Parliament, Stuart was appointed by the Conservative government as chair of Wilton Park, an executive agency of the UK Foreign Office dedicated to conflict resolution in international relations, in October 2018. She is a member of the Steering Committee of the Constitution Reform Group (CRG), a cross-party organisation chaired by Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 7th Marquess of Salisbury, which seeks a new constitutional settlement in the UK by way of a new Act of Union. The Constitution Reform Group's new Act of Union Bill was introduced as a Private Member's Bill on 9 October 2018.

Early life


Gisela Gschaider was born in Velden, Bavaria, West Germany on 26 November 1955 to Martin and Liane Gschaider.[2][3] She attended the Staatliche Realschule Vilsbiburg in Vilsbiburg.[2] After doing an apprenticeship in bookselling, she moved to the UK in 1974 in order to improve her English and to do a Business Studies course at Manchester Polytechnic.[4] She was deputy director of the 1983 London Book Fair.[5] Stuart subsequently relocated to the Midlands.

She graduated from the University of London with an LLB in 1993, having studied through the University of London External System.[6] She began researching for a PhD in trust law (ownership of pension funds) at the University of Birmingham while she also lectured Law to AAT students at Worcestershire College, but did not complete her PhD and instead went into politics full-time.[1]

In 1994, as Gisela Gschaider, Stuart contested the Worcester and South Warwickshire seat at the European elections[7] for Labour. She lost by 1,000 votes.

Parliamentary career


In 1995, Stuart was selected as Labour's parliamentary candidate for the Birmingham Edgbaston constituency. The constituency, which had once been held by former Conservative Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain (1937–40), had returned only Conservative MPs for 99 years. The sitting Conservative MP at the time, Dame Jill Knight, was retiring after 31 years. On 1 May 1997, Stuart was elected as the first-ever Labour MP for the constituency, making it one of a succession of traditional Conservative seats to fall to Labour control in a landslide victory for the party. Stuart's victory was the first televised Labour gain of the evening.

During the First Blair ministry, Stuart served on the Social Security Select Committee and in 1998 as PPS to Home Office Minister of State Paul Boateng, before joining the government in 1999 as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health. Stuart left this post in the reshuffle that followed after the 2001 election.[8] Her election agent in that election was John Clancy, who became Leader of Birmingham City Council in 2015.[9]

In Blair's second ministry, Stuart was appointed as one of the UK Parliamentary Representatives to the European Convention, which was tasked with drawing up a new constitution for the European Union. In this capacity, Stuart also served as one of the thirteen members of the Convention's Presidium – the steering group responsible for managing the business of the Convention.

When the draft Constitution emerged, Stuart was one of the most trenchant critics of the proposal, stating that it had been drawn up by a "self-selected group of the European political elite" determined to deepen European integration. She subsequently expounded these views in a 2004 Fabian Society pamphlet, The Making of Europe's Constitution.[citation needed] Consequently, she argued in favour of British withdrawal from the European Union, becoming one of the leading Eurosceptic figures in the Labour Party.[10]

In October 2004, she became the only Labour MP who openly supported the re-election of George W. Bush at that year's U.S. presidential election, arguing "you know where you stand with George and, in today's world, that's much better than rudderless leaders who drift with the prevailing wind". She wrote that a victory for Democratic Party challenger, John Kerry, would prompt "victory celebrations among those who want to destroy liberal democracies. More terrorists and suicide bombers would step forward to become martyrs in their quest to destroy the West".[11]

Between 2001 and 2010, Stuart also served as a member of the House of Commons Select Committee on Foreign Affairs.[8]

She retained her seat at the 2005 election but her majority was halved in both percentage and numerical terms. Despite the predictions of the pundits, Stuart went on to retain the seat at the 2010 general election, against a national tide of Labour defeat. The election resulted in the first hung parliament in 36 years, with the Conservatives having the most seats.[12] It earned her the title of Survivor of the Year at The Spectator magazine's 2010 Parliamentarian of the Year awards, which was presented to her by the new Conservative Prime Minister, David Cameron.[13] She retained her seat at the 2015 election with a majority of 2,706 votes, more than double her majority from 2010.[14] She joined the Commons Select Committee on Defence.[8]

Stuart is a signatory of the Henry Jackson Society principles, which promote the spread of liberal democracy across the world and the maintenance of a strong military with global expeditionary reach.[15]

She was sworn in as a member of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom in 2015, giving her the honorific title "The Right Honourable" for life.[16]

Since 2015, Stuart has been a Steering Committee member of the Constitution Reform Group (CRG), a cross-party pressure group of current and former politicians, academics, constitutional law experts, former officials in Parliament and government and ordinary citizens.[17] The CRG seeks a new constitutional settlement in the UK by way of a new Act of Union.[18] The Constitution Reform Group's new Act of Union Bill was introduced as a Private Member's Bill by Lord Lisvane in the House of Lords on 9 October 2018, when it received a formal first reading. The BBC described the Bill as "one to watch" in that Parliament.[19]

She announced on 19 April 2017 that she would not seek re-election at the 2017 snap general election. She was succeeded by Preet Gill, a Labour and Co-operative politician, and the first female British Sikh MP.[20]

In 2019 Stuart announced she would vote for the Conservative Party in the 2019 general election.[21] She remained a member of the Labour Party after the election.[22]

Vote Leave


Stuart served as Chair of Vote Leave, the body which was designated by the Electoral Commission as the official campaign in favour of leaving the European Union in the 2016 referendum on European Union membership. Other spokespersons for Vote Leave included Conservative MPs Boris Johnson and Michael Gove. There were various other groups advocating for Leave, officially working independently of Vote Leave, including UKIP and the Labour Leave.

In the BBC's two-hour televised debate on the EU referendum, Stuart appeared on the "Leave" panel, along with the Conservative MPs Andrea Leadsom and Boris Johnson.[23]

Stuart's own constituency of Birmingham Edgbaston voted to Remain in the EU.[24]

After stepping down at the 2017 general election, Stuart revealed that she had pushed for an exit clause in the European Constitution, which later became Article 50 of the Treaty on the European Union.[25] Article 50 allows for withdrawal from the European Union by any member state and was invoked for the first and only time by Prime Minister Theresa May on 29 March 2017.[26]

Outside of politics


In 2016, Stuart became the sixth President of the Birmingham Bach Choir.[27]

Stuart became the chair of Wilton Park, an executive agency of the UK Foreign Office dedicated to conflict resolution in international relations, on 1 October 2018.[28] On 12 May 2020, she was appointed a non-executive board member of the Cabinet Office, for a term of at least three years.[29]

Personal life


She is a Catholic.[30] She has two sons. She married Robert Stuart in 1980, and they divorced in 2000. She then married Derek Scott in 2010. Scott died in 2012.[2]

References


  1. C. K. Jones, The People's University (London, 2008), p. 33
  2. "Stuart, Rt Hon. Gisela (Gschaider)". A & C Black. Retrieved 29 November 2019.
  3. Prince, Rosa (2 June 2017). "Why I'm standing down from Parliament: Gisela Stuart, MP for Birmingham, Edgbaston". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 6 March 2019. Retrieved 29 November 2019.(subscription required)
  4. Chakelian, Anoosh (30 November 2016). ""There is more to write about": Labour eurosceptic Gisela Stuart accuses journalists of hamming up Brexit hate crime". New Statesman. Archived from the original on 1 December 2017. Retrieved 18 November 2017.
  5. "Vote2001: Candidates – Gisela Stuart". news.bbc.co.uk. Archived from the original on 23 May 2004. Retrieved 18 November 2017.
  6. "Gisela Stuart - graduated 1993 | University of London International Programmes". www.londoninternational.ac.uk. 27 September 2011. Archived from the original on 7 April 2017. Retrieved 6 April 2017.
  7. "European Institute". Europeaninstitute.bg. 28 August 2007. Archived from the original on 24 March 2012. Retrieved 2 December 2011.
  8. "Gisela Stuart Biography". Archived from the original on 15 September 2014. Retrieved 1 April 2018.
  9. Elkes, Neil (23 November 2015). "Find out all about the new leader of Birmingham City Council John Clancy". Birmingham Mail. Archived from the original on 25 November 2015. Retrieved 1 December 2015.
  10. "Labour MP Gisela Stuart: UK should leave European Union". BBC News. Archived from the original on 11 January 2016. Retrieved 14 February 2016.
  11. Hennessy, Patrick (31 October 2004). "Anti-Kerry remarks by Labour MP put Blair on the spot". The Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 17 April 2011. Retrieved 2 December 2011.
  12. "Birmingham City Council: General Election 2010". GB-BIR: Birmingham.gov.uk. 6 May 2010. Archived from the original on 8 May 2010. Retrieved 2 December 2011.
  13. "Gisela Stuart Survivor of the Year Award". Archived from the original on 20 October 2013. Retrieved 20 October 2013.
  14. "Ms Gisela Stuart MP". UK Parliament. Archived from the original on 8 June 2015. Retrieved 3 June 2015.
  15. "Signatories to the Statement of Principles". The Henry Jackson Society. 28 November 2011. Archived from the original on 8 August 2010. Retrieved 2 December 2011.
  16. "Privy Counsellors - Privy Council". privycouncil.independent.gov.uk. Archived from the original on 13 July 2019. Retrieved 26 July 2018.
  17. "Home". Constitution Reform Group. Archived from the original on 8 October 2018. Retrieved 15 January 2019.
  18. "Act of Union Bill [HL] 2017-19 — UK Parliament". services.parliament.uk.
  19. D'Arcy, Mark (15 December 2019). "Ten names to keep an eye on in Parliament" via www.bbc.co.uk.
  20. Kirkham, David (29 April 2017). "Preet Gill Confirmed As Labour Candidate For Edgbaston". Redbrick (student newspaper). University of Birmingham. Archived from the original on 12 May 2017. Retrieved 18 May 2017.
  21. "Ex-Labour MP urges voters to back Boris Johnson to deliver Brexit". Evening Standard. 29 November 2019. Archived from the original on 11 December 2019. Retrieved 11 December 2019.
  22. Sparrow, Andrew (30 December 2019). "Brexit: Boris Johnson will have to break his promise not to extend transition, EU trade commissioner claims - as it happened" via www.theguardian.com.
  23. "EU referendum: Leave and Remain clash in BBC Great Debate". BBC News. 22 June 2016. Archived from the original on 4 February 2018. Retrieved 1 April 2018.
  24. Brown, Graeme (28 June 2016). "Birmingham Leave MPs' constituencies voted Remain". birminghammail. Archived from the original on 29 March 2018. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  25. "Revealed: How a former Labour MP inadvertently laid the groundwork for Brexit". The Telegraph. 2 June 2017. Archived from the original on 7 June 2017. Retrieved 8 June 2017.
  26. "Article 50: May signs letter that will trigger Brexit". BBC News. 28 March 2017. Archived from the original on 27 July 2019. Retrieved 8 June 2017.
  27. Arts Professional, Arts People, published 11 Nov 2016, https://www.artsprofessional.co.uk/magazine/faces/birmingham-mp-gisela-stuart-lead-chamber-choir Archived 1 May 2018 at the Wayback Machine
  28. "Foreign & Commonwealth Office announce new Chair of Wilton Park". GOV.UK. Archived from the original on 25 November 2018. Retrieved 10 May 2019.
  29. "Four new Cabinet Office non-executive board members appointed". GOV.UK. Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  30. Lee, Ceridwen (27 August 2015). "Fall in number of Catholic MPs in the House of Commons ahead of landmark debate on assisted dying". The Tablet. Archived from the original on 8 December 2019. Retrieved 29 November 2019.