Gillian Keegan ‘Militant trade unionists turned me Tory after I saw how it cost us jobs’
Age: 49 Seat: Chichester Tory majority: 24,413 Replacing: Andrew Tyrie It was militant trade unionists who turned Gillian Keegan Tory as a teenager. After leaving school aged 16, she took up an apprenticeship with a subsidiary of General Motors.
Growing up in Knowsley, Merseyside, in the 1980s, Labour was the dominant political force in the area and Margaret Thatcher was public enemy number one.
But the way Derek Hatton, part of the Trotskyist group Militant, was running Liverpool council and backing strike action seemed deeply unfair to Ms Keegan.
“I’ve always voted for the Conservatives,” she says.
“At that time, the unions were all powerful and making it very unattractive for inward investment.
“I just knew that economic approach wasn’t going to work and it would cost people jobs. And it did – but the people in the unions kept their jobs and those on the shop floor didn’t.”
Three decades later, Ms Keegan is on course to become Chichester’s first ever female MP – despite only turning to politics three years ago.
Her apprenticeship was followed by a successful business career that saw her work across the world including Tokyo, soon making more than 200 flights a year.
But a chance meeting with a Tory bigwig at the theatre in 2014 prompted a change which led to Ms Keegan fighting three elections in as many years, including joining Chichester council.
If she enters Parliament as expected next month, Brexit will be a priority. “We have to secure trade and business, and still be attractive to inward investment,” she says.