Stephen Parkinson

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Stephen Parkinson
Revolving Door.jpg This article is part of the Revolving Door project of Spinwatch.

Stephen Parkinson was appointed as a political secretary to British prime minister Theresa May in July 2016. [1]

Parkinson previously worked on the Vote Leave campaign for the UK to leave the EU. He is also a former lobbyist.

Yes to Brexit

Parkinson left this role as special adviser to then Home Secretary Theresa May in December 2015 to work as a strategic and media adviser to the 'Vote Leave' campaign. [2]

No to voting reform

Parkinson is well thought of for 'combining policy experience with political nous'. [3] He is an experienced campaigner who is widely regarded as having helped to deliver the victorious No vote in the AV referendum. The referendum wanted to change the way MPs are elected but Parkinson, amongst others, campaigned hard in favour of a 'no' vote.

Involvement in election expenses scandal

In March 2017, it emerged in a Channel 4 News report that according to a cache of leaked documents and emails, Parkinson is one of the Conservative Party's senior campaigns figures at the heart of the party election spending investigation relating to alleged over-spending during the 2015 general election campaign.[4]

Removed from prospective parliamentary candidates' list

The Daily Mail reported that Parkinson had applied to run in the May 2015 election as a prospective parliamentary candidate, [5] but had his name, unbeknown to him, removed from the candidate list. The Public Administration Committee reported on the incident, concluding that it is unacceptable for ministers or civil servants to be “complicit” in the matter, and that the special advisers in question should not have been refused the ruling they asked for. [6]

Following the incident, the Conservative Party apologised to Parkinson for not reinstating him on to the list. [6]


Twenty-pound-notes.jpg This article is part of the Lobbying Portal, a sunlight project from Spinwatch.

In May 2012 David Cameron was reportedly looking at leading members of PR companies and think tanks to join the UK Conservative Party in an attempt to freshen up its image. Parkinson was rumoured to be one of these figures. [7] Parkinson worked on the team briefing Prime Minister David Cameron on media and political appearances. [8]

By October 2012, he had been appointed a special adviser to minister Theresa May[9] when she was home secretary and minister for women and equality [10], for which Parkinson was paid a £69,200 salary. [11]

He is a former lobbyist for Quiller Consultants. From Parkinson's previous biography on Quiller's website:

Stephen Parkinson brings a breadth of experience in campaigning, policy-making and research, having worked at a senior level for the Conservative Party and on cross-party campaigns.
Before joining Quiller, he was National Organiser of the victorious cross-party NO to AV campaign for the referendum in May 2011. As well as overseeing the campaign’s research, he was one of its principal spokesmen, appearing on the BBC, Sky News, the Daily Politics and the Today programme.
Previously, Stephen had been at Conservative Central Office, where he worked at the heart of the party’s target seats campaign for the 2010 general election, which helped to deliver the party’s largest number of gains in any election since 1931. Before this, he had been Director of Research at the Centre for Policy Studies, the free market think-thank.
Stephen first worked in the Conservative Research Department, covering the home affairs desk during the 2005 general election, then moving to the Political Section, where he was responsible for briefing Shadow Ministers ahead of high-profile media appearances such as the BBC’s Question Time and Any Questions. He was also part of the small team which briefed David Cameron as leader of the opposition for Prime Minister’s Questions.
Originally from Tyneside, he was the Conservative candidate for Newcastle upon Tyne North at the 2010 general election.[8]


Parkinson holds a Masters degree in History from Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where he was elected President of the Cambridge Union (his first book, a history of the famous debating society, was published in 2009). [8]



  1. Who's who in Team Theresa May, BBC News, 14 July 2016, accessed 14 December 2016.
  2. David Skelton, Who’s who in the Vote Leave campaign, Weber Shandwick, 3 December 2015, accessed 14 December 2016.
  3. Exclusive: The longlist to succeed Hague in Richmond Conservative Home, 1 October 2014, accessed 16 October 2014
  4. Election Expenses: New emails show more members of PM’s top team involved, Channel 4, 15 March 2017
  5. War as No10 kills off bid by May's allies to be MPs: Home Office's most senior aide blocked from running in safe seat while another adviser is removed from candidates' list Daily Mail Online, 18 December 2014, accessed 13 May 2015
  6. 6.0 6.1 The Party should apologise to Timothy and Parkinson – and put them both back on the Candidates’ List Conservative Home, 24 March 2015, accessed 13 May 2015
  7. Matt Cartmell Number 10 prepares major revamp comms team PR Week, 11 May 2012, accessed 7 October 2014
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Stephen Parkinson, Quiller Consultants' website, accessed 19 October 2011
  9. James Forsyth Dave's first-class work has been derailed again Daily Mail, 21 October 2012, accessed 7 October 2012
  10. Mark Wallace The longlist to succeed Hague in Richmond Conservative Home, 1 October 2014, accessed 7 October 2014
  11. Special advisers in post, 30 November 2014 GOV.UK, accessed 29 April 2015