From OP to MP: Anthony Browne shares experience with Perse students

South Cambridgeshire MP Anthony Browne outlined his journey from The Perse to Parliament to students during his visit to the Upper.

The Conservative MP, who left The Perse in 1985, explained to the audience how after reading maths at Cambridge University, he had started out as a journalist with the BBC, becoming economics correspondent, and fulfilling the same role at The Observer before moving to The Times.

He then became director of Policy Exchange, a think tank developing potential policy ideas for government, before being recruited by Boris Johnson in 2008 to be in charge of business and economic policy during the current Prime Minister’s first term as Mayor of London as well as writing the manifesto for his 2012 mayoral election campaign.

Mr Browne told how he then took on the CEO post with the British Bankers’ Association before deciding to put his name forward for the Tory candidacy for South Cambs after the constituency’s then MP Heidi Allen had left the party.

He explained how he had to go through several stages, including a hustings in front of 300 people, before being selected to successfully run for the Conservatives in the 2019 General Election.

Having grown up in Fowlmere, Mr Browne said it was “a great honour and privilege to represent South Cambridgeshire. I’ve built up a lot of experience in life and I wanted to be able to use that to help South Cambridgeshire and the country and I hope I can make a difference to people.”

In response to a question from the floor, Mr Browne felt his broad career gave him the credentials to be an effective MP.

He said: “Being a journalist is extraordinary because you see an awful lot of life and learn so much about so many different things and meet people from different backgrounds. Then when I was working with Boris Johnson, it was a government role where I was responsible for a budget and you learn how to make things happen, which is a critical skill.

“When I ran the British Bankers’ Association, I was responsible for negotiating policy. I negotiated the regulatory reforms following on from the global financial crisis in 2008 and I learned from that how to make things happen, win arguments and debates and change policy, so all those different skill sets are very useful to bring to public life.”

Asked where his political passions lay, Mr Browne responded that green issues were his priority. Having worked briefly for Friends of the Earth after leaving university and been environment editor at The Times, he is also Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Environment, explaining: “We raise awareness and understanding of environmental issues within Parliament because tackling climate change is a critical issue.”

Mr Browne rounded off his visit by taking further questions from students seeking his thoughts on major national topics, such as Covid and Brexit, to local issues, including house prices and house building, as well as transport and traffic in and around Cambridge.


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