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Sam Gyimah: Rising star who grew disillusioned with Conservatives over Brexit

The 43-year-old has been a vocal advocate for a second referendum on Brexit.

Sam Gyimah has defected to the Lib Dems (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)
Sam Gyimah has defected to the Lib Dems (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

By PA Reporters

Sam Gyimah has been considered a “rising star” for nearly two decades.

The East Surrey MP and Remain supporter defected from the Conservatives to the Liberal Democrats after growing disillusioned with the Tories under Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The 43-year-old has described a no-deal Brexit as “disorderly and damaging”, and is a vocal advocate for a second referendum.

Mr Gyimah was born in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, but split from his single mother aged six and was sent to live in Ghana, before returning to a state comprehensive to complete his GCSEs and A-levels.

He credited “good schools with great teachers” as he earned a place at Somerville College, Oxford, to read philosophy, politics and economics.

His political teeth were cut at the Oxford Union, where he served as president, and sharpened as he stood for Camden council elections unsuccessfully.

Initially employed by Goldman Sachs as an investment banker, where he worked on mergers and acquisitions, Mr Gyimah was added to the Conservative party A-list and selected as the prospective parliamentary candidate for East Surrey in 2010 following the retirement of Peter Ainsworth.

He took the seat with a 17,000-vote majority and had only been in Westminster for two years when he was made parliamentary private secretary to then Prime Minister David Cameron.

But he pushed for a bigger role in Government, becoming a whip in 2013 and childcare minister in 2014, with promotions to prisons minister and universities minister following.

He briefly joined the race to replace Theresa May as party leader this summer before withdrawing.

Before defecting, he sat as an Independent after losing the Tory whip when he backed a move by opposition parties to prevent a no-deal Brexit earlier this month.

Outside Westminster circles, the Arsenal fan increased his following after he appeared to quote from Harry Potter during Question Time.

When discussing US President Donald Trump’s Britain First retweets and Theresa May’s condemnation, he channelled Albus Dumbledore and said: “It takes great bravery to stand up to your enemies, it takes even more bravery to stand up to your friends.”

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