Elected as the Member of Parliament for South Cambridgeshire in 2015 and again in 2017, Heidi Allen came to politics from business, having worked for 18 years in a variety of industries. Prior to running her own manufacturing business, she worked in the private sector for organisations such as ExxonMobil and the public sector with the Royal Mail.
This combination of broad business knowledge, plus a degree in Astrophysics and also in law, means Heidi has been able to represent the diverse interests of her constituency and promote the growth of its small and medium sized enterprises and high-tech industries too. Having grown up in rural Yorkshire, she also understands the rural way of life and the inherent challenges often faced.
Since her election, Heidi has gained a reputation for being an independently minded backbencher, unafraid to speak out in the House of Commons. A member of the Work and Pensions Select Committee, she has influenced the national debate on the funding and delivery of the welfare state, regularly speaking up for families on low incomes and for the disabled. Heidi was the lead campaigner on the Conservative benches and was at the heart of all the funding and structural improvements made to Universal Credit prior to joining the Independent Group.
She was awarded the “Conservative Newcomer MP of the Year” in 2016 for her work in representing the vulnerable and marginalised. She was also instrumental in the Government agreeing to take in more child refugees displaced by the war in Syria and was recognised again for her work on this issue winning “Conservative MP of the Year” in 2017.
Representing a strong remain constituency, she is determined to play her part in ensuring Brexit does not damage the economy, security and people’s lives. As such, she was one of the Conservative MPs who backed the Grieve amendment in 2017, which ensured Parliament has a vote on the final deal. This has proved to be absolutely fundamental as the Brexit debacle has unfolded.
Heidi is married to Phil who runs the family manufacturing business. They live in South Cambridgeshire with two cats!
“I feel excited – so excited, and in a way that I haven’t felt since I was first elected”
Heidi’s statement 20 February 2019
My name is Heidi Allen and I am very very proud to be the Member of Parliament for South Cambridgeshire.
I love my constituency – it is bursting with innovation and a desire to challenge the status quo. I love that my constituents want to share their talents and their discoveries to make the world a better place and to tackle inequalities. My constituents make my head and my heart fizz with possibilities.
I want to feel that way in Westminster too. I am tired of feeling numb.
So today, alongside my wonderful colleagues, I have resigned from the Conservative party.
It was the Tottenham riots in 2011 that stimulated my change in career. I was busy running my own manufacturing business, I had no political interest whatsoever and never even thought about joining a political party.
But watching the news, night after night, it was as if Lord Kitchener was pointing his finger out of the screen, at me. ‘Your country needs you.’
That raw hunger to serve my country and to offer my skills and experience led me to the Conservative party.
I believed that under David Cameron and his Big Society, the party, like me, was ambitious for the country. It was challenging the nasty party image and proving that we could in fact be a party of both competence and compassion.
So why, so often, too often, in the last three years have I found myself going over the top fighting for benevolence in our welfare system.
The Department for Work and Pensions has had six secretaries of state in 3 years – six!
You wouldn’t run a business like that and expect it to succeed. So how can it possibly be acceptable when you are completely redesigning our welfare safety net? Particularly when that net is so vital when we are at our lowest and when we need it most.
Because those that rely on the net are people, and not numbers.
I shouldn’t have to feel that the only option left open to me is to take a camera crew around the country to shine a devastating spotlight on poverty. It shouldn’t be this hard.
I believed I was part of a party who worked collaboratively, welcomed knowledge and had the empathy to feel. But I have slowly but surely realised that I am not.
I can no longer represent a Government and a party who can’t open their eyes to the suffering endured by the most vulnerable in society. Suffering which we have deepened whilst having the power to fix.
The Conservatives were always recognised as the party of economic competence, but when we allowed a Cabinet Minister to say ‘F business’, and we have a Prime Minister bullied into submission by the ERG, and is now dragging the country and Parliament kicking and screaming to the edge of a no-deal abyss…
I want to be part of something better, a party that people vote for because they want to, not because they feel they have to.
But this afternoon, I feel a mix of emotions. Apprehension, some sadness. I do worry about my relationships with good friends I have made in the Conservative party. They know who they are.
But do you know what I also feel, ladies and gentlemen? I feel excited – so excited and in a way that I haven’t felt since I was first elected. And a sense of liberation.
Because the United Kingdom deserves better. I didn’t leave my business to lower my professional standards and accept second best. I demand more from my party and more from my country. More competence, more collaboration, more expert analysis, more transparency, more care and more fairness.
It needs to push and shove and drive, not cower from its own shadow. It should attract the best minds, the biggest hearts and the most effective communicators.
I – we – are prepared to dare to dream that this is possible.
But it’s not going to happen if we sit idly by, nodding through policy and voting like sheep. If Brexit was a pained clarion call for change, then we hear it.
Our parties have been unable to grasp the magnitude of the challenge and have no plan to respond nor heal the divisions across our cities, our villages and our dining tables.
So we need to start again with a clean sheet. And as true centre ground MPs, sharing the same values as millions of our citizens, we have a responsibility to act.
This week is the beginning. Once there were seven and now there are eleven (and at the last count about 115,000 Twitter followers).
So yes, we are putting our heads above the parapet and we might fail. But isn’t the prize worth fighting for? And I sense the country wants us to fight for it too. And I for one, am prepared to give it everything I’ve got.
And now ladies and gentleman, it gives me great pleasure to hand over to my very good friend, Dr Sarah Wollaston.