Robert Courts


Robert Courts
Official portrait of Robert Courts MP crop 2.jpg
Official portrait, 2019
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport
Assumed office
8 September 2020
Prime MinisterBoris Johnson
Preceded byKelly Tolhurst
Member of Parliament
for Witney
Assumed office
20 October 2016
Preceded byDavid Cameron
Majority15,177 (24.8%)
Personal details
Born (1978-10-21) 21 October 1978 (age 43)[1]
Stockport, Greater Manchester, England[2]
Political partyConservative
Spouse(s)Kathryn Courts
ResidenceBladon, Oxfordshire
Alma materUniversity of Sheffield
WebsiteOfficial website

Robert Alexander Courts (born 21 October 1978) is a British barrister and Conservative Party politician serving as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport since 2020.

Courts has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Witney since winning the seat at by-election in 2016, succeeding former Prime Minister, David Cameron. He retained his seat in the 2017 and 2019 general elections. Courts was Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs from 2019 to 2020.

Early life and career

His father Ian Courts is a solicitor, company director, and the Conservative leader of Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council.[3] His mother, Sheila, is a school governor.[3][4]

Courts was schooled at Berkhamsted School, where he was head of Fry's House, before reading law at the University of Sheffield.[5] Courts was called to the Bar at Lincoln's Inn in 2003 and practises as a barrister at 3PB Chambers principally in the fields of personal injury/clinical negligence and public and regulatory law especially Animal Welfare, Aviation, Police and Proceeds of Crime Law.[6] He worked in Wellington, New Zealand, at the Crown Law Office (Legal Advisors) for the New Zealand Government in 2009.[6]

Political career

Courts stood as a Council candidate in Solihull in 2002 but was unsuccessful. Courts was elected a Conservative member of West Oxfordshire District Council in 2014.[7] He was selected as the Conservative Party candidate to replace David Cameron—who had resigned as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in July and from Parliament in September—as Member of Parliament in the 2016 Witney by-election.[7] Courts retained the seat for the Conservatives in the 20 October 2016 by-election, but his majority of 5,702 was considerably smaller than the 25,155-strong majority Cameron won in the 2015 general election. He was sworn into the House on 24 October.[8] He increased his majority to over 21,000 in the snap 2017 general election. This majority was then reduced to under 16,000 in the 2019 general election.

Courts supported the successful 'Leave' campaign in the EU referendum on 23 June 2016.[9] He is a member of the eurosceptic European Research Group, having subscribed in April 2017.[10] Courts was appointed Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in January 2018,[11] but resigned as a PPS on 15 July 2018, in protest of the White Paper on Exiting the European Union and the Chequers Agreement.[12][13][14] Courts was a supporter of the proposed free trade deal with Australia and New Zealand, describing it as a 'no-brainer'.[15]

Courts' main Parliamentary interests are defence and foreign policy. He is credited by the House of Commons library with helping to lead the "parliamentary pressure" that led to the announcement of the Ministry of Defence's Combat Air Strategy, the programme for the eventual replacement of the Eurofighter Typhoon.[16] He has become one of the leading parliamentary speakers on the Armed Forces, with a particular specialisation in the Royal Air Force. Courts represents RAF Brize Norton, the largest RAF base in the UK, and serves as the Vice Chair (RAF) of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Armed Forces. Courts is not listed as having any military experience.[17] Courts is a council member of the Air League.[18]

On 8 May 2019, Courts initiated and led a parliamentary debate on human rights in West Papua.[19] Courts is a supporter of HS2.[20]

As Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Small and Micro Business, Courts has been a leading parliamentary campaigner for the interests of small businesses. Courts has called for a full review of the business rates system.[citation needed] Regarding parliamentary procedure, Courts has been an outspoken critic of Early Day Motions (EDMs), describing them as "parliamentary graffiti". Courts has said that EDMs are generally tabled by MPs on behalf of "lobbyists or groups keen to show themselves as doing something", that they are "politically impotent" and a waste of taxpayers' money.[21]

Courts currently serves on two Parliamentary Select Committees: the Transport Committee, which he was elected to in October 2018, and the Justice Committee, which he joined in January 2019. In August 2019, Courts was appointed Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Secretary of the State for the Environment, Theresa Villiers. Courts was appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Transport on 8 September 2020.[22]

Personal life

Courts is married to Kathryn; they have two young children, and live in the village of Bladon.[23] He is a member of St Martin's Church Parochial Church Council.[citation needed]

He has been a member of the Churchill Centre for many years, and reviews books about Winston Churchill in the quarterly journal, Finest Hour.[24]

Courts is a blues guitarist and enjoys cycling, swimming, and hiking. He is also a diver, interested in the marine environment; he is a member of the Marine Conservation Society.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "MyParliament - Biography for Robert Courts". My Parliament.
  2. ^ "Search Results - Birth, Marriage, Death -".
  3. ^ a b "Register of interests: Councillor Ian Courts".
  4. ^ "Visit by Cllr Ian and Mrs Sheila Courts". TroopAid. 20 July 2017. Retrieved 19 June 2021.
  5. ^ "Whither Witney? The by-election everyone's watching". 23 September 2016. Archived from the original on 24 August 2017.
  6. ^ a b "Robert Courts – 3 Paper Buildings Barristers' Chambers". Archived from the original on 12 October 2016. Retrieved 11 October 2016.
  7. ^ a b "Robert Courts chosen as Tory candidate for David Cameron's constituency". The Guardian. 22 September 2016. ISSN 0261-3077. Archived from the original on 12 October 2016. Retrieved 11 October 2016.
  8. ^ "Tracy Brabin and Robert Courts sworn in as MPs". BBC News. 24 October 2016. Archived from the original on 30 October 2016. Retrieved 25 November 2016.
  9. ^ Elgot, Jessica (11 October 2016). "Witney byelection: hard Brexit may be key issue in Cameron's former constituency". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 12 October 2016. Retrieved 13 October 2016.
  10. ^ "Robert Courts - IPSA". IPSA. Retrieved 24 October 2018.
  11. ^ "List of Parliamentary Private Secretaries (PPS): January 2018".
  12. ^ "May suffers yet another resignation as Robert Courts quits over her Brexit plan". Sky News. 15 July 2018.
  13. ^ Mikhailova, Anna (15 July 2018). "Theresa May hit by her eighth resignation over Brexit plans in nine days, as ministerial aide quits". The Daily Telegraph.
  14. ^ Sabbagh, Dan (15 July 2018). "Theresa May faces rebellion from Brexit hardliners in customs bill vote". The Guardian.
  15. ^ "The Telegraph: Free Trade with our Aussie and Kiwi Allies is a No-brainer". Robert Courts MP. Retrieved 12 June 2021.
  16. ^ Brooke-Holland, Louisa (15 May 2018). "Prospects for combat air: What follows Typhoon and Lightning?". UK Parliament.
  17. ^ "Service History: How Many MPs Have Military Experience?". Forces Network. 18 December 2019. Retrieved 12 June 2021.
  18. ^ "Key People – The Air League".
  19. ^ "West Papua: Human Rights - Hansard". Retrieved 21 August 2019.
  20. ^ "Robert Courts compared to 'HS2 - In Favour'". Retrieved 13 June 2021.
  21. ^ "Early Day Motions". Robert Courts. Retrieved 21 August 2019.
  22. ^ "Robert Courts MP". GOV.UK. Retrieved 12 June 2021.
  23. ^ "About Robert Courts". Robert Courts MP.
  24. ^ "Books, Arts, & Curiosities - European Unity - Finest Hour". The International Churchill Society. 8 August 2018. Retrieved 21 August 2019.

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by Member of Parliament
for Witney