What is your proudest political achievement?
Locally, my work with the community to help save the Stroke Rehabilitation Ward at Bishop Auckland Hospital. Setting up the APPG on One Punch Assaults last February in honour of my dad was a very personal achievement at parliamentary level.
What domestic issues are of most concern to you?
Crime and justice are my key drivers. In particular, violence reduction, appropriate sentencing and support for victims of crime. I’m also hugely passionate about policing.
Which foreign affairs issues are of most importance to you?
International trade and securing new opportunities for UK businesses as we leave the EU.
Are you working with any think tanks, charities or pressure groups?
I’m a Northern Policy Foundation Parliamentary Council Member and I’m on the board of Blue-Collar Conservatives – both focussing on levelling up. I am Chair of the Institute of Economic Affairs’ Free Market Forum and I’m also working closely with the charity One Punch North East.
Why did you decide to enter politics?
My dad was killed by a single punch when I was 13, so I saw the ugly side of the justice system at a young age. This made me determined to do what I could to try to stop others having the same experiences. I discovered politics by accident at 16 and realised it is a way I could make a real difference.
What book has influenced you most?
I always try to live by the lesson delivered by Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird: “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb in his skin and walk around in it”. Politics is all about trying to put yourself in other people’s shoes to see how you can make things better.
Which historical figures do you take inspiration from?
Obviously, I have to credit Margaret Thatcher for proving that it’s possible as a woman from a working class upbringing to shatter the glass ceiling.
Katherine Johnson is also a real inspiration. Not only was she an incredible mathematician, but she also overcame both sexism and racism to become one of the most influential figures of the 1960s space race.
How do you like to unwind?
I enjoy running, playing guitar and finding time to get through my pile of outstanding video games. I also love escaping into a good book – particularly dystopian fiction!
Is music important to you?
I love music and pretty much always have Spotify on when I’m working, relaxing, travelling or out running. I like an eclectic mix, but everyone who knows me knows that my favourite artist is Taylor Swift.
Where would you recommend visiting in Bishop Auckland?
There are far too many to name, but the Bowes Museum, Hamsterley Forest or High Force are fantastic places to visit. And if you’re hungry, Babul’s in Barnard Castle does incredible curries.
Most memorable speeches you’ve witnessed in the Chamber?
Katherine Fletcher’s maiden speech was fantastic and had me in stitches! Hearing Rosie Duffield talking about her experience with domestic abuse was incredibly moving and inspiring.
Most disappointing moment in the Chamber?
Usually when you’ve prepped a speech and wait hours to get your turn, then don’t get called. It’s just part of the job, but it can be frustrating.
Best media moment of your career?
I gave a difficult interview to ITV Tyne Tees about my experiences with mental health. In complete contrast, I also did a light-hearted interview about Love Island which was good fun.
Are there any other memories from your political career you want to highlight?
I’m a member of the Home Affairs Select Committee, and am particularly interested in its work on policing. I’m also co-chair of the APPG for British Bioethanol and vice-chair of the APPGs for Music, for Sport, and for Video Games.