Dame Glenis Willmott
|Leader of the Labour Party|
in the European Parliament
18 January 2009 – 3 October 2017
|Preceded by||Gary Titley|
|Succeeded by||Richard Corbett|
|Member of the European Parliament |
for the East Midlands
1 January 2006 – 3 October 2017
|Preceded by||Phillip Whitehead|
|Succeeded by||Rory Palmer|
4 March 1951
Horden, County Durham, England
|Alma mater||Trent Polytechnic|
Dame Glenis Willmott,(née Scott; born 4 March 1951) is a retired British Labour Party politician who served as leader of the European Parliamentary Labour Party (EPLP) and Member of the European Parliament for the East Midlands.
Willmott was born in the mining village of Horden, County Durham, but moved to Mansfield with her family at the age of 10. She was educated in Mansfield and at Trent Polytechnic where she obtained an HNC in medical science. She worked as a medical scientist for the National Health Service at King's Mill and Mansfield Hospitals from 1969 to 1990.
She was chair of Mansfield Constituency Labour Party and a member of Nottinghamshire County Council for the Leeming and Forest Town division from 1989 to 1993. She also worked as an assistant to Alan Meale (Member of Parliament for Mansfield) from 1987 to 1990.
In 1990, she became political officer for the GMB trade union's Midland and East Coast region. She served as chair of the East Midlands Regional Labour Party and was second on the Labour Party list of candidates for the East Midlands region at the 2004 elections to the European Parliament. Willmott is a member of the Labour Friends of Israel and has served as vice-chair.
On 1 January 2006, she replaced Phillip Whitehead as a member of the European Parliament for the East Midlands following his death. Along with other Labour MEPs, she was part of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats Group in the European Parliament.
In July 2006, she was elected to the position of Chief Whip of the Labour MEPs, a position she held until January 2009, when she was elected as the Leader of the European Parliamentary Labour Party (EPLP), replacing Gary Titley who had resigned the post. She was the longest serving leader of the EPLP, surpassing Barbara Castle and Gary Titley.
In September 2014, she was appointed rapporteur for changes to medical devices legislation primarily triggered by scandals involving PIP breast implants and 'metal-on-metal' hip replacements. In October 2014, Willmott received the Outstanding Leadership Award from the Belgian Association of Clinical Research Professionals for her work on clinical trials legislation. She also hosted an S&D event at the Espace Léopold focused on improved labelling of alcoholic drinks.
Following the 2014 election, Willmott sat (or was a substitute) on the following Committees and Delegations:
In May 2014, Willmott launched her East Midlands campaign for the 2014 European Parliament election in Derby "promising to help people struggling with the cost of living". She said the Conservatives wanted to help energy companies and bankers. "Nearly 340,000 East Midland jobs depended on continued membership but the Tories hadn't said what aspects of EU membership they wanted to renegotiate or when they would do it. An EU referendum would just be a distraction when Britain was trying to improve its economy". She also claimed UKIP's stated objective of "cutting red tape" were really about "cutting people's rights at work". In the East Midlands where five seats were contested, Labour retained Willmott's seat and increased their share of the vote by 8%, narrowly missing out on gaining a second seat in the region.
Although she opposed David Cameron's decision to call the referendum on the UK's membership of the EU, Willmott played a prominent role in Labour In for Britain, Labour's campaign for Britain to remain in the EU. She was critical of Cameron's proposed reforms to the EU, including changes to legislation on workers' rights, product standards and environmental protections. She argued that the five key arguments for remaining a member of the EU were on job protection and creation, employment rights, protections for consumers, cross-border security and increased influence on the world stage.
Following the UK's vote to leave the EU, Willmott has argued that if the deal reached during the Brexit negotiations leads to extensive deregulation and weakening of social and workers' rights, then Labour should oppose it. In the aftermath of the referendum result, she wrote a letter on behalf of the EPLP to Jeremy Corbyn calling for his resignation as Labour leader after a party briefing document appeared to promote the work of Kate Hoey and Gisela Stuart, two key MPs in the rival Labour Leave campaign.
Willmott announced in July 2017 that she would stand down in October and was formally replaced as MEP for the East Midlands by Leicester city councillor Rory Palmer on 3 October. She was replaced as Leader of the EPLP by her colleague Richard Corbett. She was honoured with a 'thank you' dinner on 4 November 2017 which celebrated her career and contribution to the Labour Party and European politics; the dinner was attended by Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Labour Party as well as former leader Ed Miliband.
Willmott lives in Leicestershire with her husband Ted. She was appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2015 Dissolution Honours on 27 August 2015.