Tea With An MP: Julia Lopez
After seeing them on our screens and on posters, we often forget to think of politicians as people; here’s where Tea With an MP comes in. This informal interview series seeks to humanise MPs, while simultaneously making politics accessible to everyone. By spilling the tea with our Members of Parliament, we can better understand what makes them want to represent their constituency, what their ambitions are and~more importantly~ how many sugars they take?
In this segment of Tea with an MP, we spoke to Julia Lopez, a Conservative MP for Hornchurch and Upminster.
Tea or Coffee?
Tea, please. Builders - milk, no sugar. No Earl Grey.
Dogs or cats?
I’d say cats, but dogs are cute too, as long as they don’t jump up at me!
What does a typical day as an MP for you look like?
It varies hugely depending on if I’m in the constituency or not. If in parliament, it normally involves committee work, preparing speeches, seeing constituents, talking to my team about our projects, voting and catching up with colleagues about what’s going on in the rest of the party and generally dashing around! If in the constituency, we might be visiting schools, local businesses, talking about campaigns with my local Association, helping constituents at surgery and trying to build networks across the constituency where we can put people together who can help one another.
With the rising importance of social media in our day-to-day lives, have you noticed its impact within your role?
Brexit is an issue that’s currently taking centre stage in UK politics at the moment. However, is there an issue that’s of central importance for you and your constituents?
Brexit is the biggie and it takes up a lot of time as getting it right is essentially about setting our strategy as a nation in the years ahead in a way that will better deliver for the people I represent. We also get a lot of enquiries from constituents about health, housing, education - all the things that matter to individual families.
My own passion is to connect infrastructure developments up in east London in a way that will help deliver a higher quality of life for residents, give them greater opportunities, build skills and make the environment a much more attractive place. I also want to build Britain’s global relationships up and make the U.K. a relevant player in shaping new technologies and services.
In a ComRes survey last year, it was reported over 55% of female MPs had experienced some form of gender discrimination, have you personally faced any discriminatory challenges in your role whether they be gender-based or not that you feel comfortable addressing?
Every individual who goes into politics will have people who oppose what they stand for and who they are. I don’t know if my being a woman makes my journey any harder than anyone else’s into politics, but I see any doubt people have in my abilities as an opportunity to engage and change minds rather than as a reason to stand back.
How important is it to you that young people become more engaged with politics today? What do you think could be done to improve the demographics of politics?
Extremely but people of all ages have value in any debate, and I want us to move away from identity to understanding that every individual is important and has a valid opinion. It is about building a nation that everyone feels they have a stake in, and making people more empathetic to one another. I love visiting local schools as young people are so articulate and much more engaged than they were when I was at school. I feel really inspired and reassured by the way they engage with me.
A special thanks to Julia Lopez for being the first to participate in our Tea with an MP series. If you are a constituent of Hornchurch and Upminster, you can find Julia’s contact information here.