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Politics

Co-founder, Leave.EU
The New Statesman has described him as ‘the man who bought Brexit’, and self-made millionaire Arron Banks staked around £7.5 million of his fortune on the campaign to leave the EU. Having worked in insurance for two decades, Banks set up his own firm, Brightside, in 2005. He was sacked as CEO after it floated and responded by setting up rival company GoSkippy. Banks was a member of the Conservative party until 2014 when he defected to UKIP, giving them £1 million. Banks founded Leave.EU with property entrepreneur Richard Tice in July 2015.
SNP MP
In 2015 a 20-year-old Mhairi Black became the youngest MP in 350 years when she was elected MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South, defeating Labour’s Douglas Alexander. Her eloquent and impassioned maiden speech made as much of an impression as her disregard for House of Commons conventions, and she has remained a confident voice in the Commons, taking the government to task on issues surrounding welfare and employment. ‘Baby of the House’ Black still had to complete her degree at Glasgow after she was elected, and counts Tony Benn and Keir Hardie amongst her political heroes.
Former Prime Minister
Tony Blair found himself back in the spotlight last year following the publication of the Chilcot Report. He is rumoured to be seeking a return to the House of Commons, though he recently ruled himself out of the Cumbria by-election. In 1997 Blair became the youngest prime minister in almost two centuries and oversaw two further general election wins during his ten years in charge. After stepping down as PM he became envoy to the Middle East for the UN, EU, US and Russia, has worked as an adviser to companies including JP Morgan Chase alongside a lucrative speaking career.
Permanent Representative to the EU
Sir Tim Barrow became the UK's new ambassador to the EU earlier this month following the high-profile departure of Ivan Rogers. An experienced diplomat, Barrow was British ambassador to Russia until 2015 and then became political director at the Foreign Office. He was formerly first secretary at UKRep, effectively the British embassy in Brussels, and his extensive experience in Europe may help to calm concerns in some quarters over the government’s EU exit strategy, which was called into question by Rogers’s departure.
Secretary of State for Business and Industrial Strategy
An MP since 2005, Greg Clark now runs the newly created Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, determining and implementing government policy on business regulation and law, climate change and energy, science and innovation. Last year he offered assurances to Nissan over the future of the UK’s motor industry in the wake of the Brexit, after which the company confirmed it would proceed with building two new car ranges in Sunderland. Clark was born in Middlesbrough and studied at Cambridge, working in consultancy before becoming a special adviser to trade and industry secretary Ian Lang in 1996.
Labour Party Leader
Despite divisions within his party, an attempt to remove him from power, and the worst opinion poll deficit in 50 years, Jeremy Corbyn has remained resolutely in charge of Labour thanks to his decisive mandate amongst its members. The MP for Islington North was born in Wiltshire and educated at Adams Grammar School. He entered politics as a member of Haringey Council and became an MP aged 34. In a second leadership contest with Owen Smith in September, he won by a larger margin than in 2015, but ‘Corbynism’ continues to prove a particularly divisive brand of politics.
Leader, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party
In the 2016 Scottish Election, former TA signaller Ruth Davidson saw her party increase its seats by 31, overtaking Labour to become the second-largest party after the SNP. Davidson herself also won Edinburgh Central from the SNP. As a committed unionist, she has clashed publicly on a number of occasions with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, but recently called for the UK to stop infighting over Brexit. Davidson is Christian and openly gay, and worked as a producer, presenter and reporter for the BBC for a period prior to entering politics.
Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union
David Davis was given responsibility for project-managing the UK’s exit from the EU in July when Theresa May became prime minister. A known Eurosceptic, Davis was a critic of the coalition government largely over its stance on tuition fees and refused David Cameron’s invitation to join his Cabinet. He was born to a single mother in York and initially raised by his grandparents, later moving to Wandsworth with his mother and stepfather. Before becoming an MP in 1987 he was a senior executive at Tate & Lyle and, aptly, reportedly takes up to five spoonfuls of sugar in his tea.
Former UKIP Leader
Despite the fact that his party only has one MP, Nigel Farage remains an influential political force who finally found his Eurosceptic views vindicated by June’s referendum result. Farage was educated at Dulwich College and worked in the City after leaving school. He was an active member of the Conservative party until 1992, when he left over the signing of the Maastricht Treaty, and became a founding member of UKIP. Following the US election, Farage was the first British politician to be invited to meet Donald Trump, and the controversial duo have mooted the prospect of him becoming British ambassador to the US.
Secretary of State for International Trade
Former GP Liam Fox was reinstated to the Cabinet in July as international trade secretary and has since hailed the opportunity for the UK to join the World Trade Organisation as a fully independent member following a withdrawal from the EU. Fox previously served as David Cameron’s defence secretary for 18 months but resigned amid questions over unofficial access given to his close friend Adam Werrity. Having first stood to lead the Conservatives in 2005, Fox ran for leadership again in 2016, but was eliminated in the first ballot in last place.
Secretary of State for Education
Appointed education secretary in July, Justine Greening is now tasked with implementing Theresa May’s plan to lift the ban on new grammar schools. As transport secretary until 2012, Greening opposed a third runway at Heathrow and was secretary of state for international development prior to succeeding Nicky Morgan as education secretary. Greening is also minister for women and equalities and tweeted last year that she was in a happy same-sex relationship, becoming the first openly gay female Cabinet member. She is also the first education secretary to have attended a mainstream comprehensive secondary school.
Chancellor of the Exchequer
Former foreign secretary Philip Hammond is now tasked with delivering on Theresa May's promise to help the JAMs - Just About Managings - as chancellor since July. His Autumn Statement revealed the financial impact of Brexit and a significant cut in growth predictions, but won approval for scrapping letting fees and for scaling back on cuts to Universal Credit. Hammond was born in Epping and and like many of his colleagues in Parliament studied PPE at Oxford, pursuing a successful career in business before becoming an MP in 1997.
MEP Daniel Hannan implored voters to put him out of a job when he campaigned for a Leave result in the run-up to the EU referendum, serving on the Vote Leave campaign board and taking part in numerous debates on the issue. Hannan spent his early life in Peru and was sent to boarding school in the UK. The resignation of Thatcher and signing of the Maastricht Treaty prompted him to set up the Oxford Campaign for an Independent Britain when he was still at university. His term as an MEP concludes in 2019 and he plans to leave politics thereafter.
Cabinet Secretary and Head of Home Civil Service
As head of the home civil service for two years and Cabinet secretary for five, Sir Jeremy Heywood oversees the almost half a million individuals working in UK public institutions, implementing policy, and administering tax, pensions and benefits systems. Heywood joined the Treasury in 1992 and became principal private secretary to chancellor Norman Lamont, later fulfilling the same role for Tony Blair and Gordon Brown as successive prime ministers. He then became Downing Street chief of staff under Brown and permanent secretary under David Cameron.
Joint Chiefs of Staff to the Prime Minister
Described in the media as her ‘secret weapons’, Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill are Theresa May’s most senior advisers and much of her success and longevity as home secretary has been attributed to them. Birmingham-born Timothy apparently ‘lives and breathes’ policy and has written extensively for the website ConservativeHome, while Hill, a former editor at Sky News, was instrumental in May’s Home Office campaign to end modern slavery. Her loyalty to her boss was recently proven during the highly publicised ‘trousergate’ incident, when she warned detractor Nicky Morgan away from Downing Street.
Secretary of State for Health
Last year a YouGov poll found him to be the most unpopular frontline politician in the UK, but health secretary Jeremy Hunt remains resolute in delivering the government’s ‘truly seven-day NHS’. His dispute with the BMA over the introduction of a new contract for junior doctors resulted in five walkouts over the course of six months in 2016, the first strikes by junior doctors in 40 years. The MP for South West Surrey was born in Lambeth and was a contemporary of Boris Johnson and David Cameron at Oxford. During his early career he worked as a management consultant and in PR, and co-founded website Hotcourses.
Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs
For many, Boris Johnson was the face of last year’s Brexit result, though his subsequent bid for leadership proved short-lived after former supporter Michael Gove chose to run against him. His appointment by Theresa May to foreign secretary was met with some scepticism, and his tenure has not been without controversy so far, though commentators point out that his public persona belies a keen intellect: he speaks five languages and has written a number of books including a biography of Churchill. Johnson was president of the Oxford Union and was editor of the Spectator until 2005.
Journalist and Political Activist
An early supporter of Jeremy Corbyn, Guardian writer Owen Jones has recently revised his views on the Labour leader, saying that the party and the left now ‘teeter on the brink of disaster’. Jones, who also writes for the New Statesman, is an advocate of LGBT rights and walked out of an interview with Sky News in June when the presenter insinuated that the Orlando nightclub massacre was not an act of homophobia. A ‘fourth generation socialist’, Jones was born in Sheffield and grew up in Stockport. He has written two books on politics and social class.
Mayor of London
Former human rights lawyer Sadiq Khan became Mayor of London in 2016 having served as MP for Tooting for over a decade. A former Labour transport minister, he has promised to be London’s most cycling-friendly mayor, planning to triple the number of protected cycle lanes. One of his first initiatives as mayor was to allow bus passengers to change journeys for no additional cost, and he has also banned tube advertising deemed to ‘body shame’ women. Khan was born into a working-class British Pakistani family and grew up with seven siblings on a council estate in Earlsfield.
Prime Minister
Remain voter Theresa May landed the job of delivering on the Brexit vote when she became the UK’s second female prime minister in July. Respected across government for her resilience and unflappability, May has also scored highly in public opinion polls, which showed she could potentially quadruple the Conservative majority if she chose to call an early election. May worked for the Bank of England and in local government before becoming MP for Maidenhead in 1997. Inevitably her fashion sense has not escaped media attention, and she has said she would request a lifetime subscription to Vogue as her desert island luxury.
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Industry and Energy
Conservative MP Jesse Norman has been a minster for industry and energy since July, taking up the new post in Theresa May’s newly created department. Having worked as an adviser to George Osborne and Boris Johnson, Norman became an MP in 2010 and was tipped from early on as a potential future leader of the party. As a backbencher under David Cameron, he was often a rebellious voice, opposing House of Lords reform and military intervention in Syria. He has written several books including a biography of Edmund Burke, and is a trustee of arts venue The Roundhouse, which was founded by his father.
Conservative MP
Although George Osborne lost his place in the Cabinet last year, he is expected to play a role in Brexit negotiations on account of his six years’ experience as chancellor under David Cameron. Osborne was educated at St Paul’s and a member of the notorious Bullingdon Club at Oxford. In 2001, and aged 30, he became the youngest Conservative MP in the House of Commons. Osborne has warned Theresa May about the impact of a ‘hard’ Brexit and said that the process could be slower than anticipated. He was the highest-paid MP in 2016, largely thanks to speaking engagements.
Home Secretary
Amber Rudd was appointed home secretary last July after just six years as an MP, having risen to prominence as a passionate campaigner for a Remain vote as secretary of state for energy and climate change. Born in London, Rudd was educated at Cheltenham Ladies' College and Edinburgh University, and worked for JP Morgan and as a company director before entering politics. Colleague Therese Coffey has described the MP for Hastings and Rye as ‘an absolute class act’, while journalist Anne McElvoy says she is ‘the most ambitious woman in politics, give or take Theresa May’.
Conservative MP
A former minister for small business, Anna Soubry was a prominent campaigner for a Remain vote prior to the EU referendum and has since criticised Vote Leave for misleading the public over NHS funding. The MP for Broxtowe in Nottinghamshire is known for her liberal, left-leaning politics and for her candid opinions on subjects ranging from Nigel Farage to the Daily Mail, which she recently described as a ‘shameful rag’. Soubry studied Law at Birmingham University and was a journalist and television presenter prior to entering politics.
First Minister for Scotland and Leader, SNP
‘Queen of Scots’ Nicola Sturgeon has variously been named Britain’s most dangerous woman (by the Daily Mail) and its most influential (by Woman’s Hour). She became First Minister in 2014 when Alex Salmond resigned following the Scottish independence referendum, and presided over the SNP’s landslide election victory in Scotland in the 2015 General Election. Sturgeon joined the SNP as a teenager and worked as a solicitor prior to joining the Scottish Parliament. She has warned that another independence referendum may be staged in the wake of the Brexit result.
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