John Baron (politician)
John Charles Baron (born 21 June 1959) is a British Conservative politician who has served as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Basildon and Billericay since 2010, having been MP for the predecessor constituency of Billericay from 2001 to 2010. Baron has rebelled against his party relatively frequently, specifically in his calling for a referendum on the European Union before the 2015 election and in opposing military intervention in Iraq, Libya and Syria.
|Member of Parliament |
for Basildon and Billericay
|Assumed office |
7 June 2001
|Preceded by||Teresa Gorman|
|Born||21 June 1959|
|Alma mater||Jesus College, Cambridge|
|Years of service||1984–1988|
|Unit||The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers|
After university, Baron was commissioned into the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers on 3 January 1984 as a second lieutenant (on probation). His commission was confirmed and he was promoted to lieutenant with seniority from 8 August 1984. He was promoted to captain on 8 February 1987. He served in Northern Ireland, Cyprus and Germany.
In 1995, Baron became the treasurer of the Streatham Conservative Association. In 1997 David Amess decided not to risk standing again in his ultra-marginal Conservative seat of Basildon and was successfully selected and subsequently elected for the safer seat of Southend West. Baron won the Conservative nomination to defend Basildon at the 1997 general election, but Angela Smith won it as a Labour Party candidate with a strong majority.
In November 1999, Teresa Gorman (C) announced intention to stand down at the next general election from her seat Billericay, neighbouring Basildon. Baron was selected to defend Billericay at the 2001 general election and he held the seat with a majority of more than 5,000, which he doubled at the 2005 general election. He made his maiden speech on 20 July 2001.
Baron was a member of Iain Duncan Smith's frontbench team, but resigned in March 2003 in protest at Duncan Smith's support of the Iraq War. He was re-appointed by Duncan Smith as a health spokesman four months later, a position he held until July 2007 when he was moved to the Conservative Whip's Office.
Baron was the only Conservative among just 15 MPs who voted against British participation in the attack on Libya in the Commons on 21 March 2011. In 2013 he tabled a backbench motion to mandate a vote in Parliament before providing "lethal support" to anti-government forces in Syria, which ultimately prevented further military intervention when the government was unable to secure the necessary parliamentary support and he was also part of a minority voting against the government on air strikes against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
In June 2012, Baron delivered a letter, signed by over 100 Tory MPs, to the Prime Minister David Cameron urging him "to place on the Statute Book before the next General Election a commitment to hold a referendum during the next Parliament on the nature of our relationship with the European Union". In May 2013 he tabled a rebel amendment to the Queen's Speech to "express regret" that a referendum on the EU could not be held sooner, which was backed by over 100 MPs.
His reputation as a Eurosceptic and "serial rebel" saw his name mentioned as a possible defector to the UK Independence Party. Speaking to the BBC's Newsnight in response to speculation in late 2014, Baron said: "You should never say never in politics but the bottom line is my very strong preference is to stay within the Conservative party."
In July 2014, Mark d'Arcy of the BBC named Baron his choice in "Parliamentarians of the Year" for 2013/14 for his role in opposing military action in Syria and seeking a promise of a referendum on membership of the European Union, writing that "he is not a household name or a fiery orator, but his fingerprints are all over the two most significant parliamentary events of the last 12 months." He voted against further airstrikes in 2015.
Baron is married and has two daughters.
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