Victoria Atkins

Victoria Mary Atkins (born 22 March 1976) is a British politician who has served as Financial Secretary to the Treasury since October 2022. A member of the Conservative Party, she was first elected as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Louth and Horncastle in Lincolnshire in 2015.[5] Prior to her political career, she worked as a barrister specialising in the field of fraud.

Victoria Atkins
Official portrait, 2020
Financial Secretary to the Treasury
Assumed office
27 October 2022
Prime MinisterRishi Sunak
Preceded byAndrew Griffith
Minister of State for Prisons and Probation
In office
16 September 2021  6 July 2022
Prime MinisterBoris Johnson
Preceded byLucy Frazer
Succeeded byStuart Andrew
Minister for Afghan Resettlement
In office
16 September 2021  8 March 2022
Prime MinisterBoris Johnson
Preceded byRichard Harrington[lower-alpha 1]
Succeeded byThe Lord Harrington of Watford[lower-alpha 2]
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Safeguarding
In office
9 November 2017  16 September 2021
Prime Minister
Preceded bySarah Newton
Succeeded byRachel Maclean
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Women
In office
8 January 2018  13 February 2020
Prime MinisterTheresa May
Preceded byAnne Milton
Succeeded byThe Baroness Berridge
Member of Parliament
for Louth and Horncastle
Assumed office
7 May 2015
Preceded bySir Peter Tapsell
Majority28,868 (55.2%)
Personal details
Born (1976-03-22) 22 March 1976[1]
London, England
Political partyConservative
SpousePaul Kenward[2]
ParentRobert Atkins (father)
Alma materCorpus Christi College,

Atkins is the daughter of long-time Conservative MP Robert Atkins. She was appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Safeguarding at the Home Office in November 2017 by Prime Minister Theresa May. Following the formation of the first Johnson ministry in July 2019, she was retained in her post. On 16 September 2021, during the cabinet reshuffle, Atkins was appointed Minister of State for Prisons and Probation and Minister for Afghan Resettlement, overseeing Operation Warm Welcome before resigning from that position in 2022.[6][7][8]

Victoria Mary Atkins was born on 22 March 1976 in London. She is the daughter of Sir Robert Atkins, a former Conservative MP and MEP and Lady Dulcie Atkins, a Conservative councillor. She was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of three. Atkins was privately educated at the Arnold School, a co-educational independent school in Blackpool in Lancashire. Atkins read law at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.[9]

Atkins was called to the bar (Middle Temple) in 1998.[10][11] She worked as a barrister in the field of fraud in London.[10][12]

Political career

In November 2012, Atkins stood unsuccessfully in the first ever Police and Crime Commissioner elections for the Gloucestershire Constabulary area. Although she garnered the most first preference votes, she lost to former police superintendent Martin Surl (Independent) when second preferences were counted.[13][14] She was also shortlisted for the safe seat of Salisbury in 2010.[15] For the 2015 election, she was on the shortlist for the Tonbridge and Malling seat, along with Edward Argar, Chris Philp, and Tom Tugendhat. Tugendhat won the selection; Atkins and her other opponents were selected for seats elsewhere in time for the same election.[16]

Parliamentary career

Atkins was selected over three others in July 2014 as the Conservative candidate for Louth and Horncastle, at a meeting (referred to as an "Open Primary" by the party)[17] of around 200 local party members in Spilsby. It is a safe Conservative seat: all areas of it have been continuously held by the party since 1924.[18][19] The retiring MP was Sir Peter Tapsell, who at that time was Father of the House of Commons, having served the area for nearly 50 years in addition to his previous Parliamentary service. Former Prime Minister John Major (who first entered the House of Commons at the same time as her father) supported her first parliamentary election campaign, and has known her "since she was born".[20]

After becoming the MP for Louth and Horncastle at the 2015 general election, Atkins was appointed as a member of the Home Affairs Select Committee in July 2015.[21]

Atkins was opposed to Brexit prior to the 2016 EU membership referendum but consistently voted in favour of a referendum being held.[22][23] After the referendum, she voted in favour of triggering Article 50 in February 2017.[24][25] In the 2017 general election, she retained the seat with 63.9% of the votes and an increased majority.[26]

In June 2017, Atkins was appointed as a Junior Minister.[27] Following Priti Patel's resignation as International Development Secretary, she replaced Sarah Newton as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Vulnerability, Safeguarding and Countering Extremism in the Home Office.[28]

In the House of Commons she has sat on the Draft Investigatory Powers Bill (Joint Committee) and the Home Affairs Committee.[29]

In April 2018, Atkins said she did not know the number of police officers in the country during an 'awkward' interview with Nick Ferrari on the LBC radio station. Ferrari informed her that the number was 123,142. This followed the leak of a Home Office report that concluded cuts to police numbers had "likely contributed" to a rise in serious violent crime.[30] The following month, she voluntarily recused herself from speaking on drug policy in relation to cannabis after it was reported that her husband's company, British Sugar, grows under permit a non‐psychoactive variety of cannabis which is used in children's epilepsy medicine.[31]

In June 2019, Atkins vetoed the appointment of Niamh Eastwood, the director of Release, to the independent advisory NGO Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD)'s council. She did so as Eastwood had previously been critical of the Home Office's drug policy on social media including criticising a letter by Atkins in which she opposed the introduction of drug consumption rooms. Eastwood had previously been approved by a Home Office advisory assessment panel. A subject access request by Eastwood revealed that ministers vetted social media profiles of appointments to public bodies including references to "Windrush", "the government", "Brexit", and "anything diversity-related".[32] In October 2019, Professor Alex Stevens, a criminal justice expert, resigned from the ACMD over alleged "political vetting" of panel members by the government.[33] Kit Malthouse, the Minister for Policing replaced Atkins as the minister responsible for the government's drug policy on 7 October.[34]

In the 2019 general election, Atkins was re-elected for Louth and Horncastle with an increased majority, obtaining 72.7% of the vote[35] from a turnout of 65.7%.[36]

In September 2021, following the withdrawal of foreign defence forces from Afghanistan and takeover by the Taliban, Atkins became Minister of State for Prisons and Probation at the Ministry of Justice. Simultaneously Rachel Maclean was appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Minister for Safeguarding) at the Home Office to succeed her. Both ministers assumed cross-Government responsibility for the Afghan resettlement programme and Operation Warm Welcome.

On 6 July 2022, Atkins resigned as justice minister, citing concerns with party leadership.[37]

Personal life

Atkins is married to Paul Kenward,[2] the managing director of British Sugar.[31] They have one son.[3][4]


  1. As Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Syrian Refugees. Office vacant between 17 July 2016 and 16 September 2021.
  2. As Minister of State for Refugees.


  1. Jamieson, Sophie (29 April 2015). "Female MPs: Parliament's future front bench stars". The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group. Retrieved 28 April 2020.
  2. "Mr P.R. Kenward and Miss V.M. Atkins - Engagements Announcements". Telegraph Announcements. Telegraph Media Group. 2007. Retrieved 28 April 2020.
  3. "About Victoria". Victoria Atkins MP. Retrieved 15 September 2016.
  4. Goodman, Paul (1 May 2015). "Cameron's Children: The next generation of Conservative MPs". ConservativeHome. Retrieved 28 April 2020. Family: Married to Paul, the Managing Director of a food company and has one son, Monty
  5. "Louth & Horncastle". Election 2015. BBC News. 7 May 2015. Retrieved 28 April 2020.
  6. "Operation Warm Welcome".
  7. "Ministerial appointments: September 2021". 16 September 2021.
  8. @victoriaatkinsmp (6 July 2022). "With great sadness and regret, I am resigning as Justice Minister. It has been an enormous privilege to serve" via Instagram.
  9. "Victoria Atkins follows in her political parents' footsteps". Lancashire Post. JPI Media. 16 November 2017. Retrieved 28 April 2020.
  10. "Profile". The Telegraph. Retrieved 10 May 2015.
  11. "Victoria Mary Atkins | Barrister | Barrister & Expert Witness". The Bar Directory. Archived from the original on 4 April 2017. Retrieved 3 April 2017.
  12. Simmons, Richard, Meet the lawyers standing for Parliament Lawyer 2B, 10 April 2015
  13. "Gloucestershire PCC vote: Independent Martin Surl elected". BBC News. 16 November 2012. Retrieved 28 April 2020.
  14. "Police and Crime Commissioner for Gloucestershire election". BBC News. 16 November 2012. Retrieved 28 April 2020.
  15. Carr, Tim (18 May 2015). The Politicos Guide to the New House of Commons 2015: Profiles of the New MPs and Analysis of the 2015 General Election Results. Biteback Publishing. ISBN 9781849549240. Retrieved 18 June 2017 via Google Books.
  16. "Evening Briefing: A new breed of MP? – Telegraph Blogs". 20 April 2014. Archived from the original on 20 April 2014.
  17. Wallace, Mark (30 July 2014). "Victoria Atkins wins hard-fought Louth and Horncastle Open Primary". ConservativeHome. Retrieved 28 April 2020.
  18. "Victoria Atkins named Conservative Parliamentary candidate for Louth and Horncastle after hard fought primary". Grimsby Telegraph. Local World. 29 July 2014. Archived from the original on 25 May 2015. Retrieved 25 May 2015.
  19. "Victoria Atkin selected as Conservative Party Primary candidate to succeed Sir Peter Tapsell". Louth Leader. JPI Media. 28 July 2014. Archived from the original on 19 August 2014. Retrieved 25 May 2015.
  20. "Sir John Major visits to back Victoria Atkins in fight against UKIP's Colin Mair". Louth Leader. JPI Media. 5 February 2015. Archived from the original on 6 February 2015. Retrieved 25 May 2015.
  21. "Home Affairs Committee: Committee membership announced". UK Parliament. 8 July 2015. Retrieved 28 April 2020.
  22. "Victoria Atkins MP, Louth and Horncastle". TheyWorkForYou. Retrieved 28 April 2020.
  23. Goodenough, Tom (16 February 2016). "Which Tory MPs back Brexit, who doesn't and who is still on the fence?". The Spectator. Retrieved 11 October 2016.
  24. "MP confirms she will vote in favour of triggering Article 50 if the issue comes before Parliament". Victoria Atkins. 4 November 2016. Retrieved 28 April 2020.
  25. Daly, Patrick (1 February 2017). "North Lincolnshire MPs help Article 50 vote to pass overwhelmingly". Grimsby Telegraph. Archived from the original on 1 February 2017. Retrieved 3 April 2017.
  26. "Louth & Horncastle parliamentary constituency". Election 2017. BBC News. 9 June 2017. Retrieved 28 April 2020.
  27. Bolger, Hope. "Lincolnshire MP becomes junior minister". BBC News. Retrieved 28 April 2020.
  28. "Victoria Atkins MP becomes Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Home Office". Louth Leader. JPI Media. 12 November 2017. Retrieved 28 April 2020.
  29. "Victoria Atkins MP". UK Parliament. Retrieved 28 April 2020.
  30. Simons, Ned (9 April 2018). "Tory Home Office Minister Victoria Atkins Admits She Does Not Know How Many Police Officers There Are". HuffPost UK. Retrieved 28 April 2020.
  31. Khan, Shehan (17 May 2018). "Drugs minister accused of 'hypocrisy on a grand scale' over husband's involvement in legal cannabis farm". The Independent. Archived from the original on 17 August 2022. Retrieved 28 April 2020.
  32. Busby, Mattha (11 June 2019). "Drugs expert barred from policy panel after criticising Home Office". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 April 2020.
  33. Busby, Mattha (6 October 2019). "Expert quits Home Office drug panel over 'political vetting'". The Guardian.
  34. Busby, Mattha (7 October 2019). "Britain's minister responsible for drug policy replaced". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 April 2020.
  35. "Victoria Atkins 'honoured and delighted' after election victory". Louth Leader. JPI Media. 13 December 2019. Retrieved 28 April 2020.
  36. Hennessy, Peter (13 December 2020). "Victoria Atkins elected MP for Louth and Horncastle in emphatic victory". LincolnshireLive. Reach. Retrieved 28 April 2020.
  37. Forrest, Adam (6 July 2022). "Ministers John Glen and Victoria Atkins quit citing PM's 'poor judgement'". The Independent. Archived from the original on 17 August 2022. Retrieved 6 July 2022.
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