Karen Bradley

Karen Anne Bradley[3] (née Howarth, born 12 March 1970) is a British Conservative Party politician who served as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland from 2018 to 2019, and has served as Member of Parliament (MP) for Staffordshire Moorlands since 2010.[4][5]

Karen Bradley

Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
In office
8 January 2018  24 July 2019
Prime MinisterTheresa May
Preceded byJames Brokenshire
Succeeded byJulian Smith
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport[1]
In office
14 July 2016  8 January 2018
Prime MinisterTheresa May
Preceded byJohn Whittingdale
Succeeded byMatt Hancock
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Preventing Abuse, Exploitation and Crime
In office
8 February 2014  14 July 2016
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded bySarah Newton
Lord Commissioner of the Treasury
In office
7 October 2013  8 February 2014
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Preceded byRobert Goodwill
Succeeded byJohn Penrose
Member of Parliament
for Staffordshire Moorlands
Assumed office
6 May 2010
Preceded byCharlotte Atkins
Majority16,428 (37.6%)
Personal details
Karen Anne Howarth

(1970-03-12) 12 March 1970[2]
Newcastle-under-Lyme, England, UK
Political partyConservative
Spouse(s)Neil Bradley
Alma materImperial College London
WebsiteOfficial website

Bradley was appointed to the Cameron Government in 2014 as Minister of State for the Home Department. During the formation of the May Government in July 2016, she was appointed to the Cabinet as Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, where she remained until being appointed Northern Ireland Secretary in January 2018.

Early life and career

Bradley was born in Newcastle-under-Lyme.[6] Her family moved to Buxton, Derbyshire and she was educated at the local comprehensive and Imperial College London, graduating with a BSc in Mathematics.[7]

In 1991, Bradley joined Deloitte & Touche and became a tax manager, and after seven years she became a senior tax manager with KPMG. In 2004 she set up business as a fiscal and economic consultant before rejoining KPMG in 2007, where she remained until her election to the House of Commons.[8]

Parliamentary career

Bradley unsuccessfully contested Manchester Withington at the 2005 general election, coming third to the Liberal Democrats' John Leech.[9]

Bradley was a member of the Conservative Party's A-List and was selected for Staffordshire Moorlands in July 2006.[10] She was elected as the constituency's member of parliament at the 2010 general election.[5]

Following her election to Parliament in 2010, Bradley was a member of the Work and Pensions Select Committee from 2010, and in May 2012 was elected co-secretary of the backbench 1922 Committee.[11] She relinquished these positions on her appointment to the Government Whips' Office in September 2012. In February 2014, she was promoted to the Home Office as a junior minister. In July 2016, she was appointed as Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport in Theresa May's first cabinet.

During the cabinet reshuffle in 2018, Bradley was appointed Secretary of State for Northern Ireland after the resignation of James Brokenshire due to ill health. Matt Hancock replaced her as Culture Secretary. In July 2018 she came under criticism in the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee for failing to take action on British government discrimination against former soldiers and police. Andrew Murrison challenged her on her account of what she had done, and she said she would write to him. Sylvia Hermon commented: "I wait and wait for letters."[12]

Bradley was reelected at the 2019 general election.[13][14]


In late November 2016, she was criticised for denying appointment of black female candidate Althea Efunshile, a former deputy chief of Arts Council England as a non-executive director on the board of the state-owned broadcaster, Channel 4, while confirming the appointment or re-appointment of the other four candidates, all white men. This action led to a letter of complaint being sent to her by a cross-party group of MPs.[15][16] On 12 December 2017 the government announced the appointment which her successor ratified.[17]

In September 2018 she was criticised for admitting in an interview[18] for House magazine, a weekly publication for the Houses of Parliament, that she had not understood Northern Irish politics before being appointed Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. "I didn't understand things like when elections are fought, for example, in Northern Ireland – people who are nationalists don’t vote for unionist parties and vice versa," she said.

In March 2019 she was criticised by all sides in Northern Ireland and faced calls to resign for invoking the Nuremberg defence when defending the actions of UK forces during the Troubles, saying: "The fewer than 10% [of killings] that were at the hands of the military and police were not crimes, they were people acting under orders and fulfilling their duties in a dignified and appropriate way."[19][20][21] A "clarification" on her remarks was made by Bradley later that day in the House of Commons, and the following day she issued an apology.[22] The families of victims raised concerns that Bradley was attempting to influence a UK government decision on whether or not to prosecute British soldiers involved in killing 14 civilians on Bloody Sunday.[23]

Personal life

Bradley is married to Neil Bradley. They have two sons.[7] She is a fan of Manchester City Football Club.[24]


  1. Culture, Media and Sport (2016–2017)
  2. "Karen Bradley MP". BBC Democracy Live. BBC. Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 25 July 2010.
  3. "No. 59418". The London Gazette. 13 May 2010. p. 8745.
  4. "Staffordshire Moorlands District Council election results". Archived from the original on 13 June 2011.
  5. Elections 2010: Karen Bradley takes Staffordshire Moorlands with 6,700 majority Archived 10 May 2010 at the Wayback Machine on ThisIsStaffordshire.co.uk
  6. "Who's Who". ukwhoswho.com. Archived from the original on 6 July 2008. Retrieved 20 July 2016.
  7. "Karen Bradley". conservatives.com. Archived from the original on 6 August 2016. Retrieved 20 July 2016.
  8. "Karen Bradley MP". GOV.UK. Archived from the original on 6 September 2015. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
  9. "BBC NEWS – Election 2005 – Results – Manchester Withington". news.bbc.co.uk.
  10. "Where are the original A-Listers now? The 18 who have been selected for Conservative seats". Conservative Home. 21 April 2009. Archived from the original on 28 October 2014. Retrieved 20 July 2016.
  11. "New faces elected on to influential Conservative 1922 committee". BBC News. Archived from the original on 17 May 2012. Retrieved 12 July 2012.
  12. "Army and police veterans 'discriminated against' in border force recruitment". ITV News. 4 July 2018.
  13. "Staffordshire Moorlands parliamentary constituency - Election 2019". Retrieved 15 December 2019.
  14. Andrews, Rob (13 December 2019). "Tory Karen Bradley retains Staffordshire Moorlands seat". stokesentinel. Retrieved 15 December 2019.
  15. Sweney, Mark (29 November 2016). "BME woman blocked from Channel 4 board as four white men join". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 30 November 2016.
  16. Sweney, Mark (5 December 2016). "Black woman vetoed for Channel 4 job was Arts Council England deputy chief". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 6 December 2016.
  17. Sweney, Mark (12 December 2017). "Althea Efunshile joins Channel 4 board after government U-turn". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 12 December 2017.
  18. "Karen Bradley: "I'm not here for the headlines. I'm here to get the best thing for the country"". PoliticsHome.com. 6 September 2018.
  19. McConnell, Daniel (6 March 2019). "Karen Bradley faces resignation calls following controversial Troubles comment". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 6 March 2019.
  20. "Obeying Orders". broadsheet.ie. 6 March 2019. Retrieved 6 March 2019.
  21. "Karen Bradley faces calls to resign over Troubles comments". BBC News. 6 March 2019. Retrieved 6 March 2019.
  22. "Breaking – Karen Bradley 'profoundly sorry' over killings comments". RTÉ. 7 March 2019. Retrieved 7 March 2019.
  23. O'Carroll, Lisa; Bowcott, Owen; Walker, Peter (7 March 2019). "Karen Bradley facing continued resignation calls despite apology". The Guardian via www.theguardian.com.
  24. "Is there more to Karen Bradley than a love of crime fiction?". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media. 14 July 2016. Archived from the original on 11 November 2016 via WebArchive.
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Charlotte Atkins
Member of Parliament
for Staffordshire Moorlands

Political offices
Preceded by
John Whittingdale
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Succeeded by
Matt Hancock
Preceded by
James Brokenshire
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
Succeeded by
Julian Smith
Orders of precedence in the United Kingdom,
Preceded by
Penny Mordaunt
Secretary of State
Followed by
Esther McVey
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