Mr Mark FrancoisMember of Parliament for Rayleigh and Wickford
After two failed attempts to enter Westminster – first coming second to Ken Livingstone in the 1997 General Election, then losing the Conservative selection to be the Kensington and Chelsea candidate in 1999 – Francois was elected as MP for Raleigh. His maiden speech was in Opposition to the Treaty of Nice. Francois says he was on a date when he got the call from David Cameron asking him to take on the role of Shadow Minister for Europe in 2007. Prior to his appointment to this position, Francois says he was only “something of a Eurosceptic by instinct”. After being catapulted directly into the heart of the Europe issue, Francois’ scepticism was cemented. One of his moves as Shadow Minister for Europe was to shift Conservative MEPs from membership of the European People’s Party (EPP) to the European Conservatives and Reformists Group (ECR). The ECR is a Eurosceptic group that opposes unchecked European integration. In 2010, Francois became Vice-Chamberlain of Her Majesty’s Household, a position held until 2012, when he was appointed Minister of State for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans, followed by Minister of State for the Armed Forces, and then for Communities and Resilience and Minister for Portsmouth. Despite these wide-ranging roles, Francois’ of the scrutiny of the Europe during his time as Shadow Minister led him to back the Leave Campaign in 2016. Campaigning for a hard Brexit has propelled Francois further into the public eye – he was described by one journalist as as “the most famous ex-TA lieutenant since Gareth Keenan in The Office”.
What is your proudest political achievement to date, both at a constituency and national level?
My proudest achievement is in helping to lead the 28 so-called “Spartans” in successfully opposing Theresa May’s deeply flawed Withdrawal Agreement in Meaningful Vote Three, on 29 March 2019.
Can you identify any historical figure(s), or mentor, who inspired your entry into politics?
Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher – in that order
Best, or most memorable, speech you have witnessed in the Chamber, and when?
William Hague’s “Blair as President of Europe” speech in 2008, during the debates on the Lisbon Treaty, which subsequently won The Spectator’s “Political Speech of the Year.”
Best media moment of your political career?
My (completely unexpected) “stare off” with Marxist commentator Will Self on Politics Live in March 2019.
What entertainment do you enjoy on a free evening (e.g. cinema, theatre, opera, concert, boxset at home)? Any favourite recent show?
I am a bit of a film buff. My favourite movie is Love Actually, as I really like the way that the writer, Richard Curtis, manages to blend so many different personal stories into one, highly entertaining and amusing narrative.
Is there a piece of music that it especially meaningful to you? Does your choice reflect your political journey in any way?:
“Ode to Joy” (only kidding).
Official parliamentary photograph taken by Chris McAndrew, 2017, licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0