Rob Sutton: Top Tories on Twitter. Case Study 3) Andrea Jenkyns

1 Jul

Rob Sutton is an incoming junior doctor in Wales and a former Parliamentary staffer. He is a recent graduate of the University of Oxford Medical School.

Number 12 on the Top Tories on Twitter list: Andrea Jenkyns

Andrea Jenkyns has built her following on an unwavering pursuit of Brexit. Both her communications style and her parliamentary career have been shaped by an outspoken desire to take us out of the EU on terms which would impose minimum restrictions on a global Britain.

It’s a message which has served her well in her constituency where 60 per cent voted to leave the EU. A former councillor, she ousted Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls in Morley and Outwood at the 2015 general election. The victory, on a thin majority of 422 (0.9 per cent), has since been cemented, growing to 11,267 (21.7 per cent) in 2019.

Her messaging style leaves voters with little doubt as to what they’re getting, but the lack of compromise has caused friction within the party. Jenkyns resigned from her early government role as a Parliamentary Private Secretary in the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to focus on her work on the Exiting the European Union Committee.

The backbenches have suited her well. Without a Government post to dampen her attacks on Theresa May’s negotiation of a Brexit deal, she was a frequent and severe critic before it became commonplace. She has taken the place of Steve Baker (number 14 on this list) on the European Research Group following his promotion to Chair.

The challenge for her moving forward is twofold: to succeed within the party without ruffling too many feathers, and to maintain relevance when Brexit ultimately ceases to inspire public interest. Jenkyns is entirely willing to get into blue-on-blue scraps on Twitter, but it’s a costly approach which would be better directed at the opposition benches.

Regarding Brexit, she is likely to be a prominent voice as negotiations heat up towards December. But assuming a satisfactory agreement is ultimately reached, public interest will wane, and Jenkyns risks being left a rebel without a cause.