Conor Burns

Conor Burns
Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Foreign Secretary
In office
23 June 2017  9 July 2018
Prime Minister Theresa May
Sec. of State Boris Johnson
Preceded by Andrew Stephenson
Succeeded by Vacant
Parliamentary Private Secretary to
the Business Secretary
In office
19 July 2016  23 June 2017
Prime Minister Theresa May
Sec. of State Greg Clark
Preceded by John Glen
Succeeded by Kelly Tolhurst
Member of Parliament
for Bournemouth West
Assumed office
6 May 2010
Preceded by John Butterfill
Majority 7,711 (17.3%)
Personal details
Born (1972-09-24) 24 September 1972
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Nationality British
Political party Conservative
Residence Westbourne, Dorset, England, UK
Alma mater University of Southampton
Website Profile

Conor Burns[1] MP (born 24 September 1972) is a British Conservative Party politician. He was elected as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Bournemouth West at the 2010 general election. He was Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to Secretary of State for Northern Ireland between 2010 and 2012, before resigning from the Government due to his opposition to the Lords Reform Bill. He served as Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Foreign Secretary until his resignation on 9 July 2018.[2]

Personal life

Burns was born in Belfast before moving with his family to Hertfordshire in 1980.[3] He was educated at St Columba's College, St Albans and read Modern History and Politics at the University of Southampton.[3]

A practising Roman Catholic, he has said he feels unable to take communion since Bishop Philip Egan, of the diocese in which Burns resides, stated that those politicians who voted for same-sex marriage, even with the caveats upon which Burns had insisted (i.e. "guarantees that ... churches would not ultimately be forced under human rights legislation to conduct such ceremonies”), should refrain from taking the sacrament.[4][5]

At Southampton he was chairman of the University's Conservative Association, 1992–93 and Chairman of Wessex Area Conservatives, 1993–94.[6] In 1994 Burns stood unsuccessfully in the Southampton Council elections. In the run-up to the election Burns was criticised for referring to hecklers as "spastics" and calling a woman a "hunchback". He subsequently faced a students union disciplinary hearing as the vice-president of the Southampton Conservative Association.[7]

He held a number of jobs in the communications and finance sectors,[3] most recently as an associate director of the public affairs company PLMR.[8] Prior to that, he was Director of the Policy Research Centre for Business Ltd; Company Secretary for DeHavilland Global Knowledge Distribution plc[9] and Manager for Zurich Advice Network.[10]

Political career

Burns was an elected councillor on Southampton City Council for three years from 1999, serving as the Conservative Group leader from 2001. Burns stood as the Conservative Party candidate for Eastleigh in the 2001 general election, finishing second with 34.3% of the vote. Burns was an unsuccessful candidate at the Hedge End Town Council elections, before coming second in the 2005 general election, again finishing second at Eastleigh with 37.5% of the vote, 568 votes behind Chris Huhne.[11] Burns was a member of the A-List of candidates and was selected in September 2008.[12] Burns was the vice-president of the Young Britons' Foundation, a conservative training and education organisation, prior to the 2010 election.[13]

Burns was elected to the House of Commons as Member of Parliament for the safe seat[14] of Bournemouth West in the 2010 general election with a majority of 5,583.[15]

He was appointed as Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to Hugo Swire, the Minister of State at the Northern Ireland Office in 2010, before which he briefly sat on the Education select committee. By 2012, he was promoted to be PPS to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Owen Paterson. However, he resigned on 10 July 2012 to vote against the Coalition's Lords Reform Bill, of which he had been a consistent critic.[16]

He became a close acquaintance to Margaret Thatcher in the later years of her life and spoke in the House of Commons debate on 10 April 2013 following her death.[17][18]

Alongside his political career, Burns works as a consultant for Trant Engineering Ltd earning £10,000 quarterly for 10 hours work a month.[19] He acts as a consultant for real estate developers, the Quantum Group, working 6 hours a month for a quarterly fee of £6,250.[19]

In 2015, an article in Private Eye[20] implied that Burns' opposition to Navitus Bay Windfarm and subsidies for renewables[21] were due to his connections to the oil and gas industry through Trant Engineering.[22][23]

In August 2017, he claimed his Twitter account was hacked after it sent a series of posts to Michel Barnier's account demanding how the UK's Brexit bill was legally calculated.[24]

Burns resigned as Parliamentary Private Secretary to Foreign Minister Boris Johnson on 9 July 2018 because he felt that "there are others [sic] areas of policy I want to speak more openly on".[25][26]

Political views


Writing in 2008, Burns called for the international community to prepare a contingency plan for the governance of Zimbabwe after the eventual departure from office of Robert Mugabe.[27]


He was outspoken in calling on former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith to grant asylum to young gay Iranian student Mehdi Kazemi.[28][29]


Due to Burns' support for the royal family of the Middle-Eastern Kingdom of Bahrain, Burns has been labelled "the honourable member for Bahrain West" by Political Scrapbook.[30] He is the chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Bahrain and has written articles defending the Kingdom's human rights record.[31] He has also accepted all-expenses paid trips to the Kingdom while it was facing mass pro-democracy protests which were later repressed.[32]

European Union

A strong Eurosceptic, Burns has been critical of the electoral system used to choose and rank Conservative candidates to run on lists to be Members of the European Parliament[33] and the impact of UK Independence Party candidates[34] in denying victory to Conservative candidates. In the 2017 election this was not a problem for him personally as UKIP opted not to place a candidate in his constituency due to his strong Eurosceptic stance.[35]


A friend of Captain James Philippson who died in Afghanistan,[36] Burns has been critical of the perceived failure of the Ministry of Defence to provide troops with appropriate equipment, stating that many troops "would be alive today had they had the most basic of equipment".[37]

Same-sex marriage

Although openly gay, Burns stated he needed "cast iron guarantees" that religious organisations will not be forced into conducting same sex marriages[38] before he voted for the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013.[39]


In 2014 he referred the charity Oxfam to the Charity Commission stating that a tweet from the charity was "overtly political".[40]

Church of England

He criticised a letter[41] from Church of England bishops urging Christians to engage with the 2015 election as "naive" and "factually wrong".[42][43]


  1. "No. 59418". The London Gazette. 13 May 2010. p. 8741.
  3. 1 2 3 "Conor Burns profile". The Conservative Party. Retrieved 9 May 2010.
  4. Gay marriage MP told he has excommunicated himself for voting for same-sex weddings,; accessed 19 September 2015.
  5. Bishop Egan under fire over plans to deny communion to dissenting MPs,; accessed 19 September 2015.
  6. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 28 December 2010. Retrieved 18 December 2010.
  7. Merrin, Tom (12 April 1994). "Lilley pal 'spastics' outburst". The Daily Mirror. London, UK.
  8. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 7 August 2011. Retrieved 22 September 2011.
  9. "Vote 2001 Candidates". BBC News.
  10. Profile Archived 5 April 2010 at the Wayback Machine.,; accessed 18 May 2015.
  11. "Eastleigh". London, UK: Retrieved 9 May 2010.
  12. Profile,; accessed 8 May 2015.
  13. Robert Booth (5 May 2010). "David Cameron accused of being dishonest over links with 'Conservative madrasa'". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 November 2016.
  14. "Majority Sorted Seats". Retrieved 25 April 2017.
  15. "Bournemouth West". BBC News. Retrieved 9 May 2010.
  16. "Lords reform: Government abandons crucial vote amid likely defeat". BBC News. 10 July 2012.
  17. Nicholas Watt and Patrick Wintour "Margaret Thatcher debate reopens raw wounds among Tory veterans", The Guardian, 10 April 2013.
  18. "Conor Burns MP's Tribute to Lady Thatcher". YouTube LLC. 11 April 2013. Retrieved 6 March 2016.
  19. 1 2 "Conor Burns MP, Bournemouth West - TheyWorkForYou". TheyWorkForYou. Retrieved 25 April 2017.
  20. "Lee Williams on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 25 April 2017.
  21. "Conor Burns MP, Bournemouth West - TheyWorkForYou". TheyWorkForYou. Retrieved 25 April 2017.
  22. "MP Conor Burns responds to "mischievous" article about Navitus bias". Bournemouth Echo. Retrieved 25 April 2017.
  23. "What does MP Conor Burns do for £333 an hour?". Retrieved 25 April 2017.
  26. "Conor Burns MP on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 2018-07-10.
  27. Burns on post-Mugabe Zimbabwe,; accessed 18 May 2015
  28. Burns on Mehdi Kazemi asylum,; accessed 18 May 2015.
  29. Burns on Mehdi Kazemi,; accessed 18 May 2015.
  30. "Tory Conor Burns: MP for Bournemouth or Bahrain?". Political Scrapbook. 2 July 2014. Retrieved 9 June 2017.
  31. "Conor Burns MP: Now is not the time to turn our backs on Bahrain". Conservative Home. 6 July 2011. Retrieved 9 June 2017.
  32. "Bournemouth MP Conor Burns defends trip to Bahrain (From Bournemouth Echo)". 23 February 2011. Retrieved 9 June 2017.
  33. Burns critical of electoral system used to elect Members of the European Parliament,; accessed 18 May 2015.
  34. Burns on UKIP,; accessed 18 May 2015.
  35. Frampton, Will (24 April 2017). "UKIP will not challenge Bournemouth's Brexit-backing MP". Bournemouth Echo. Retrieved 18 May 2017.
  36. "MoD criticised for soldier deaths". BBC News. 15 February 2008.
  37. Burns on MoD failures,; accessed 18 May 2015.
  38. "Gay Ulster born MP Conor Burns not for same sex marriage". News Letter. 18 October 2012. Retrieved 18 October 2012.
  39. Conor Burns [@conorburns_mp] (5 February 2013). "@Dekay1974 I voted for the Bill" (Tweet) via Twitter.
  40. "MP wants watchdog to probe 'overtly political' Oxfam campaign". 10 June 2014. Retrieved 23 April 2015.
  41. Church of England on 2015 general elections,; accessed 18 May 2015.
  42. "Tories Hit Back At 'Left-Wing' Bishops' Letter". 18 February 2015. Retrieved 23 April 2015.
  43. "Is The Bishops' Letter Unfair 'Tory Bashing'?". 18 February 2015. Retrieved 23 April 2015.
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
John Butterfill
Member of Parliament for Bournemouth West
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