I was born in Lincoln County Hospital where my mother worked as a radiographer.

My father had garages at Ranby and Worksop and until I was 8 I lived at Dunham-on-Trent. We then moved to Clumber Park where we lived for many years until my parents moved to Tuxford. Before his death, my father worked at Bell Fruit in Nottingham and until her retirement my mother worked for forty years in the NHS as a radiographer. I have two younger brothers; Charlie has worked at the QMC for over twenty years and William works as a car auctioneer.

I went to Dunham Primary School, Lorne House in Retford and the Hartland Comprehensive School in Worksop.

After my A levels I read Law at University of Birmingham and went on to train as a barrister. After a short spell as a member of the Liberal Party, i joined the Conservative Party and got involved in student politics.

I went on to be elected as the first female Conservative to the National Union of Students Executive. Student politics then took me to Scotland where I was elected as Honorary president (Rector) of Stirling University.

In need of a job and having always harboured an ambition to work in radio and television, I worked as a trainee reporter on the Alloa and Hillfoots Advertiser.

After a year I applied for a job at Grampian TV in Aberdeen as a reporter and presenter on North Tonight.  After two years at Grampian, I joined Central TV as a reporter on Central News East.

During my time at Central, I was the shop steward of the National Union of Journalists.  At Central, I worked on a number of programmes: including Central Weekend Live and Heart of the Country. 

Towards the end of my time in television I worked on “This Morning” with Richard and Judy and other programmes for Channel 4 and BBC 1.

In the mid 1990s, I left TV and returned to the Bar. 

I began working as a criminal barrister in Nottingham and practised until being elected to serve Broxtowe as Member of Parliament in the 2010 General Election.

I was appointed a junior Health Minister in September 2012.

In the Ministerial reshuffle in October 2013, I was appointed the first female MP Defence Minister and was promoted to Minister of State for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans in July 2014.

In 2015 I was re-elected as Member of Parliament for Broxtowe with a majority of 4,287. After more than a year attending Cabinet as Minister of State for Small Business, I chose to return to the backbenches in July 2016.

In February 2019 I resigned from the Conservative Party to sit as an independent MP alongside the Independent Group.

With my like minded colleagues who had left the Labour party we founded a new party, The Independent Group for Change, of which I am now leader. You can find out more about out party and what we stand for here. I also co-founded the campaign for a People’s Vote.

I have two daughters, who both work in London, and I spend as much time as I can with them and my partner Neil. 

I also like to cook and garden whenever I get the chance, I’m a season ticket holder at Notts County and I watch rugby (Leicester Tigers) and cricket (England and Notts.)