Alistair Burt

The Right Honourable
Alistair Burt
Burt in 2017
Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa
Assumed office
13 June 2017
Prime Minister Theresa May
Preceded by Tobias Ellwood
Minister of State for International Development
Assumed office
13 June 2017
Prime Minister Theresa May
Preceded by James Wharton
Minister of State for Care and Support
In office
11 May 2015  15 July 2016
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Norman Lamb
Succeeded by Philip Dunne
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
In office
13 May 2010  7 October 2013
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Ivan Lewis
Succeeded by Hugh Robertson
Minister of State for Social Security
In office
5 July 1995  4 May 1997
Prime Minister John Major
Preceded by William Hague
Succeeded by Paul Boateng
Member of Parliament
for North East Bedfordshire
Assumed office
7 June 2001
Preceded by Nicholas Lyell
Majority 20,862 (32.4%)
Member of Parliament
for Bury North
In office
9 June 1983  1 May 1997
Preceded by Constituency Created
Succeeded by David Chaytor
Personal details
Born Alistair James Hendrie Burt
(1955-05-25) 25 May 1955
Bury, Lancashire, England
Nationality British
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Eve Alexandra Twite
Residence Wootton, Bedfordshire
Alma mater St John's College, Oxford
Website Official website

Alistair James Hendrie Burt MP (born 25 May 1955) is a British Conservative Party politician. He was first elected as the Member of Parliament (MP) for North East Bedfordshire in 2001 and served as the MP for his native Bury North in Greater Manchester from 1983 until 1997.[1] Burt was Parliamentary Under Secretary of State then Minister of State at the Department of Social Security from 1992 to 1997, and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office from 2010 to 2013. Burt was Minister of State at the Department of Health from May 2015 to July 2016.

Early life

Alistair Burt was born in Bury, then in Lancashire (its historic county), and was educated at the Bury Grammar School,[1] where he was appointed Head Boy in 1973, and St John's College, Oxford where he was elected president of the Oxford Law Society in 1976 and graduated with a degree in jurisprudence law in 1977. He became an articled clerk with Slater Heelis & Co. of Manchester in 1978, becoming a solicitor with Watts Vallence & Vallence in 1980 where he remained until 1983.

Early parliamentary career

Burt was elected as a councillor on Haringey Borough Council in 1982 and left the council in 1984.[1] He contested the new seat of Bury North at the 1983 general election at which he was elected as the Conservative MP with a majority of 2,792 votes. He represented the seat until 1997 and returned to parliament again in 2001.[1]

In Parliament Alistair Burt became the Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to the Secretary of State for the Environment Kenneth Baker in 1985, he remained as PPS to Baker in his role as Secretary of State for Education and Science from 1986 and in his role as the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster from 1989 until 1990.[1] After the 1992 general election Burt was promoted to the government of John Major and became the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Social Security where he remained until 1995 when he was promoted further with the rank of Minister of State at the same department.[1] He was one of many ministers who lost their seats at the 1997 general election when Bury North fell to Labour's David Chaytor by 7,866 votes. From 1997-2001, he worked at executive search firm Whitehead Mann GKR.[2]

Opposition years

Alistair Burt re-entered parliament at the 2001 general election for the very safe Conservative seat of Bedfordshire North East which had been represented in parliament by the former Attorney General Nicholas Lyell who had retired. Burt was elected with a majority of 8,577, and has remained as an MP since. He was made an opposition spokesman on Education and Skills under William Hague in 2001, before he became the PPS to the Leader of the Opposition Iain Duncan Smith in 2002 and carried on as PPS to the new leader Michael Howard.[1]

After the 2005 general election, he rejoined the front bench and was a spokesman on Local Government Affairs and Communities.[1] However, in January 2008, Burt was promoted to Assistant Chief Whip and Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party with responsibility for Internal Development.

Burt is a former officer of the Conservative Friends of Israel, a position which he resigned upon entering government as a Minister in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. In December 2008, he led an all-Party group meeting with the Red Cross to campaign for visiting rights for the Israeli hostage Gilad Shalit.[3] He is a member of the Political Council of the Henry Jackson Society.[4] He is also joint founder and first Chairman of The Enterprise Forum, an organisation set up in 1997 to facilitate discussions on policy between the Business Community and the Conservative Party.[5] He is a Vice-President of the Tory Reform Group.[6]

Cameron–Clegg ministry

Burt was appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) on 14 May 2010.[1] His roles there included overseeing British-Syria policy for three years that included the start of the Syrian Civil War,[7][8] and leading on Israeli issues for the government at the United Nations.[9] Burt was angered at the failure of MPs in August 2013 to support the British government's plan to participate in military strikes against the Syrian government, in the wake of a chemical-weapons attack at Ghouta.[7][10] He stepped down on 7 October 2013.[11] Burt had been delegated under William Hague specific responsibilities for advancing FCO policy on:[12]

  • Afghanistan and South Asia
  • Middle East and North Africa
  • North America
  • Counter terrorism
  • Counter proliferation
  • FCO finance
  • Human resources and diversity

After standing down from the FCO, Burt was made a Privy Councillor on 16 October 2013,[13] and in December that year, was appointed a Commissioner of the International Commission on Missing Persons.[14]

Critic of Syria policy

As a former minister, he was freed to argue that the parliamentary vote against taking military action in Syria was a bad precedent, and it would be better if the government made decisions such as this in future by "executive action".[8] In June 2014 Burt called the lack of intervention in Syria "a disaster".[15]

Cameron Ministry

After the Conservative victory in the United Kingdom general election, 2015 on 11 May, Burt returned to Government as Minister of State for Care and Support in the Department of Health.

As a Conservative health minister, he blocked a new law to provide cheap and effective drugs for the NHS by championing medicines whose patents have expired. Burt spoke in Parliament for nearly half an hour to filibuster the proposed Off-Patent Drugs Bill, a plan that had cross-party support from backbenchers. He said “It is not always the case that something brought forward by a charity and advocated passionately by colleagues is always the answer. It's not disgraceful - it's the right answer.”[16] The Bill was subsequently revised and placed into law with agreement from all sides on the issue [17]

Post Minister Step Down

In July 2016, Alistair announced that he would be resigning from his Ministerial position, "Twenty-four years and one month ago, I answered my first question as a junior minister in oral questions and I’ve just completed my last oral questions," Mr Burt said. It was made clear that his resignation was not related to Brexit.[18]

Historically Alistair Burt had been very active in seeking justice for the victims of the Tainted Blood Scandal.[19][20][21] In November 2016, following his departure from a ministerial post he made a passionate speech to Parliament in order to layout events stating "In June 2015, I was re-invited by the then Prime Minister to join the Government in the Department of Health, at which point I went quiet on campaigning as far as the public were concerned. I know that some people misinterpreted that. My position in the Department of Health was not conditional on the fact that I had been involved with contaminated blood, and neither was my position in the Foreign Office or my decision to leave the Department of Health of my own accord earlier this year. However, the ministerial convention is clear: Ministers say only what the Government’s position is. We cannot have two colleagues firing away on the same issues, so I did indeed go quiet publicly for a period".[22][23]

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

In Theresa May's reshuffle following the 2017 election, Burt accepted his old post back at the Foreign Office. The role is a shared one, with Burt also being Minister in the Department for International Development.

Support of Yemen policy

Burt defended the British involvement in the Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen against the Shia Houthis.[24] He said that the United Kingdom "remains committed to supporting Saudi Arabia to address its legitimate security needs."[25]

Funding and expenses

The North East Bedfordshire Constituency Association has received £34,911.93 in donations since 2005. Burt has received a variety of corporate donations from conservative groups, the largest of which was £32,071.93 from The Association of Conservative Clubs Ltd in 2005.[26]

In 2009 Burt was found to have over-claimed for rent by £1000, but was not required to return the money as he was not claiming expenses for food.[27]

Personal life

Burt married Eve Alexandra Twite in 1983 in Haringey. Eve works as the MP office manager for Alistair Burt. He is an active Christian.[28] He enjoys athletics and football, and supports Bury F.C. He is a member of Biggleswade Athletics Club, and has run many London Marathons and Harrold Pit Runs.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 "Alistair Burt MP". GOV.UK. Retrieved 1 January 2014.
  2. "Alistair Burt MP". The Enterprise Forum. Archived from the original on 4 March 2012.
  3. "Campaigns". Conservative Friends of Israel. February 2007. Archived from the original on 28 June 2007.
  4. "Advisory Council". Henry Jackson Society. Archived from the original on 23 September 2013. Retrieved 2 January 2014.
  5. "Alistair Burt profile". BBC News. 21 October 2002.
  6. "TRG People". Tory Reform Group. Archived from the original on 2 January 2014. Retrieved 2 January 2014.
  7. 1 2 Patrick Wintour and Nicholas Watt (30 December 2013). "Alistair Burt reveals anger over Syria vote at Westminster". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 January 2014.
  8. 1 2 Ian Johnston (31 December 2013). "Former Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt warns of dangerous precedent created by Parliament's Syria vote". The Independent. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
  9. Martin Bright (8 September 2011). "Alistair Burt to take charge of Britain's position at the UN". Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 1 January 2014.
  10. Robert Winnett (29 August 2013). "Syria crisis: No to war, blow to Cameron". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 1 January 2014.
  11. Alistair Burt [@AlistairBurtUK] (7 October 2013). "Standing down today. The last 3 1/2 years have been a pleasure working on an extraordinary portfolio with talented people. Thank you all!" (Tweet) via Twitter.
  12. "Alistair Burt MP". GOV.UK. Archived from the original on 18 January 2013.
  13. Rupert Marquand (16 October 2013). "MP Alistair Burt appointed as Privy Councillor". Bedfordshire on Sunday. Retrieved 1 January 2014.
  14. "Twenty years on, we're still digging up the dead of the Srebrenica massacre", 10 July 2015
  15. Patrick Wintour (15 June 2014). "Tony Blair's call for anti-Isis drive criticised". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 June 2014. Alistair Burt, the recent Conservative foreign office minister for the Middle East, also agreed with Blair in part by saying: "In Syria we've now seen an example of non-western intervention, it's a disaster."
  24. "UK Government must be held accountable for children killed during Saudi Arabia's Yemen bombing, says Labour". The Independent. 7 March 2018.
  25. "Minister for the Middle East speech on the situation in Yemen". 20 November 2017.
  27. "Alistair Burt was permitted to keep rent overcame". The Daily Telegraph. London. 19 May 2009. Retrieved 20 March 2015.
  28. "Debate: Human Fertilisation And Embryology Bill". Hansard. UK Parliament. 12 May 2008. 12 May 2008 : Column 1143. Retrieved 1 January 2014.
Parliament of the United Kingdom
New constituency Member of Parliament for Bury North
Succeeded by
David Chaytor
Preceded by
Sir Nicholas Lyell
Member of Parliament for North East Bedfordshire
Political offices
Preceded by
William Hague
Minister of State for Social Security
Succeeded by
Paul Boateng
Preceded by
Ivan Lewis
Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
Succeeded by
Hugh Robertson
Preceded by
Norman Lamb
Minister of State for Care and Support
Succeeded by
Philip Dunne
Preceded by
Tobias Ellwood
Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa
Preceded by
James Wharton
Minister of State for International Development
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