Victoria Mary Atkins (born 22 March 1976) is a British Conservative Party politician. She was first elected as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Louth and Horncastle in Lincolnshire in the May 2015 general election. Prior to her political career, she worked as a barrister specialising in the field of fraud.
|Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Safeguarding|
|Assumed office |
9 November 2017
|Prime Minister||Theresa May|
|Preceded by||Sarah Newton|
|Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Women|
8 January 2018 – 13 February 2020
|Prime Minister||Theresa May|
|Preceded by||Anne Milton|
|Succeeded by||The Baroness Berridge|
|Member of Parliament|
for Louth and Horncastle
|Assumed office |
7 May 2015
|Preceded by||Sir Peter Tapsell|
|Born||22 March 1976|
|Alma mater||Corpus Christi College,|
She is currently serving as the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Safeguarding.
Early life and legal career
Victoria Mary Atkins was born on 22 March 1976 in London. She is the daughter of Sir Robert Atkins, a former Conservative MP and MEP and Lady Dulcie Atkins, a Conservative councillor. She was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of three. Atkins was privately educated at the Arnold School, a co-educational independent school in Blackpool in Lancashire.
In November 2012, Atkins stood unsuccessfully in the first ever Police and Crime Commissioner elections for the Gloucestershire Constabulary area. Although she won on first preference votes, she was beaten by Martin Surl (Independent) on second preferences. She was also shortlisted for the safe seat of Salisbury in 2010. For the 2015 election, she was on the shortlist for the Tonbridge and Malling seat, along with Edward Argar, Chris Philp (now her departmental colleague), and Tom Tugendhat. Tugendhat won the selection; Atkins and her other opponents were selected for seats elsewhere in time for the same election.
Atkins was selected over three others in July 2014 as the Conservative candidate for Louth and Horncastle, at a meeting (referred to as an "Open Primary" by the party) of around 200 local party members in Spilsby. It is a safe Conservative seat: all areas of it have been continuously held by the party since 1924. The retiring MP was Sir Peter Tapsell, who at that time was Father of the House of Commons, having served the area for nearly 50 years in addition to his previous Parliamentary service. Former Prime Minister John Major (who first entered the House of Commons at the same time as her father) supported her first parliamentary election campaign, and has known her "since she was born".
In January 2016, the Labour Party unsuccessfully proposed an amendment in Parliament that would have required private landlords to make their homes "fit for human habitation". According to Parliament's register of interests, Atkins was one of 72 Conservative MPs who voted against the amendment who personally derived an income from renting out property. The Conservative Government had responded to the amendment that they believed homes should be fit for human habitation but did not want to pass the new law that would explicitly require it.
Atkins was opposed to Brexit prior to the 2016 EU membership referendum but consistently voted in favour of a referendum being held. After the referendum, she voted in favour of triggering Article 50 in February 2017. In the 2017 general election, she retained the seat with 63.9% of the votes and an increased majority.
In June 2017, Atkins was appointed as a Junior Minister. Following Priti Patel's resignation as International Development Secretary, she replaced Sarah Newton as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Vulnerability, Safeguarding and Countering Extremism in the Home Office.
In the House of Commons she has sat on the Draft Investigatory Powers Bill (Joint Committee) and the Home Affairs Committee.
In April 2018, Atkins said she did not know the number of police officers in the country during an 'awkward' interview with Nick Ferrari on the LBC radio station. Ferrari informed her that the number was 123,142. This followed the leak of a Home Office report that concluded cuts to police numbers had "likely contributed" to a rise in serious violent crime. The following month, she voluntarily recused herself from speaking on drug policy in relation to cannabis after it was reported that her husband's company, British Sugar, grows under permit a non‐psychoactive variety of cannabis which is used in children's epilepsy medicine.
In June 2019, Atkins vetoed the appointment of Niamh Eastwood, the director of Release, to the independent advisory NGO Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD)'s council. She did so as Eastwood had previously been critical of the Home Office's drug policy on social media including criticising a letter by Atkins in which she opposed the introduction of drug consumption rooms. Eastwood had previously been approved by a Home Office advisory assessment panel. A subject access request by Eastwood revealed that ministers vetted social media profiles of appointments to public bodies including references to "Windrush", "the government", "Brexit", and "anything diversity-related". In October 2019, Professor Alex Stevens, a criminal justice expert, resigned from the ACMD over alleged "political vetting" of panel members by the government. Kit Malthouse, the Minister for Policing replaced Atkins as the minister responsible for the government's drug policy on 7 October.
In the 2019 general election, Atkins was re-elected for Louth and Horncastle with an increased majority, obtaining 72.7% of the vote from a turnout of 65.7%.
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Family: Married to Paul, the Managing Director of a food company and has one son, Monty
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- "Victoria Atkin selected as Conservative Party Primary candidate to succeed Sir Peter Tapsell". Louth Leader. JPI Media. 28 July 2014. Archived from the original on 19 August 2014. Retrieved 25 May 2015.
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- Goodenough, Tom (16 February 2016). "Which Tory MPs back Brexit, who doesn't and who is still on the fence?". The Spectator. Retrieved 11 October 2016.
- "MP confirms she will vote in favour of triggering Article 50 if the issue comes before Parliament". Victoria Atkins. 4 November 2016. Retrieved 28 April 2020.
- Daly, Patrick (1 February 2017). "North Lincolnshire MPs help Article 50 vote to pass overwhelmingly". Grimsby Telegraph. Archived from the original on 1 February 2017. Retrieved 3 April 2017.
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- "Victoria Atkins MP". UK Parliament. Retrieved 28 April 2020.
- Simons, Ned (9 April 2018). "Tory Home Office Minister Victoria Atkins Admits She Does Not Know How Many Police Officers There Are". HuffPost UK. Retrieved 28 April 2020.
- Khan, Shehan (17 May 2018). "Drugs minister accused of 'hypocrisy on a grand scale' over husband's involvement in legal cannabis farm". The Independent. Retrieved 28 April 2020.
- Busby, Mattha (11 June 2019). "Drugs expert barred from policy panel after criticising Home Office". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 April 2020.
- Busby, Mattha (6 October 2019). "Expert quits Home Office drug panel over 'political vetting'". The Guardian.
- Busby, Mattha (7 October 2019). "Britain's minister responsible for drug policy replaced". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 April 2020.
- "Victoria Atkins 'honoured and delighted' after election victory". Louth Leader. JPI Media. 13 December 2019. Retrieved 28 April 2020.
- Hennessy, Peter (13 December 2020). "Victoria Atkins elected MP for Louth and Horncastle in emphatic victory". LincolnshireLive. Reach. Retrieved 28 April 2020.