Former Ipswich MP Ben Gummer prepares for a new life after politics
- Credit: Ashley Pickering
Former Ipswich MP Ben Gummer has confirmed he will not be fighting the seat again in any future election – and is now looking at carving out a new life away from the cut and thrust of politics.
He said he had always intended not to fight the seat at the 2020 election – and admitted that his defeat had come as something of a relief as it had allowed him to spend more time with his young family.
Until June 2017, Mr Gummer was one of the most important people in the country. As Cabinet Office minister he co-ordinated the work of ministers across the government. All that came crashing down as he lost Ipswich by 831 votes to Labour’s Sandy Martin.
Since then he spent six months at home with his two young sons – freeing up his barrister wife Sarah to write a book on the law, ‘In Your Defence’.
At the start of the year he started doing some consultancy work for international business support company Kinsey and doing some teaching at Oxford University where he is a visiting fellow.
But the family have spent most of the last year at their home in rural Suffolk – and Mr Gummer readily accepts that defeat has had its compensations.
He said: “During the month of the election campaign I realised that while we were sleeping under the same roof every night, I hadn’t actually seen Aubrey (his youngest son) at all.
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“I’d always said I’d serve two full terms as Ipswich MP if the voters would have me. I always planned to step down in 2020 to do something different. I agreed to try again after the 2017 election was called – but in effect the voters just brought forward my departure by three years.”
He remains proud of his achievements in Ipswich: “When I was selected there was a feeling in the town that this was how it was always going to be and we couldn’t improve things. I like to think I challenged that and we have seen improvements happen or at least get underway.”
Although the family have been living in Suffolk for the last year, they know the time will soon come when they have to move back to their house in London which has been undergoing modernisation.
Mr Gummer said: “I shall be stepping up my work and while I have been commuting, I don’t want to have to do that every day. But Suffolk will always be home.”
Ben Gummer helped to bring fresh impetus to Ipswich regeneration
As soon as he was elected MP for Ipswich in 2010, Ben Gummer started knocking on ministers’ doors to try to get more money for the town – and worked to bring business and civic leaders together to push ahead with major improvement projects.
He started by lobbying for, and winning, investment in Ipswich Hospital and at schools in the town. And he helped set up the East Anglian Rail Taskforce which has led to new trains heading for the region – and is still pressing for infrastructure improvements.
He looks back with satisfaction at the Waterfront improvements, the town centre regeneration, and the funding in place for the new Upper Orwell Crossing.
He has one regret: “I wasn’t able to see through the funding for the northern relief road.”
But he feels the town is in good shape: “With Ipswich Vision Partnership, Ipswich Central, and the local councils there are now people taking on the fight to improve the town.”
Meteoric political career of Ben Gummer
Ben Gummer was born in 1978, a year before his father John became MP for the Suffolk Constituency of Eye (and later Suffolk Coastal).
After working as a historian, and writing a definitive book on the economic effects of the Black Death, he was selected to fight Ipswich for the Conservatives in 2007. In 2010 he was elected MP for the town, the first Tory to represent Ipswich for 18 years.
During the coalition government he was appointed Parliamentary Private Secretary to Education Secretary Michael Gove.
In 2015 he increased his majority and was rewarded by being appointed junior health minister by David Cameron.
After the 2016 referendum, during which he was a keen Remain supporter, he was appointed Cabinet Office Minister by Prime Minister Theresa May.
But in one of the biggest shocks on election night
2017 Mr Gummer lost his Ipswich seat to Labour’s Sandy Martin.