As Downing Street sends out the Prime Minister’s Christmas cards, it is fair to say that Mark Pritchard would never have been top of the list.
Three years ago, Mr Pritchard delivered a vitriolic attack on David Cameron after the Tory whips launched an attempt to block his Bill that would ban wild animals in circuses.
He told the Commons: “I have a message for the whips and for the Prime Minister of our country – and I didn’t pick a fight with the Prime Minister – I may just be a little council house lad from a very poor background but that background gave me a backbone. It gives me a thick skin and I’m not going to be cowed by the whips of the Prime Minister on an issue I feel passionately about and have conviction about.
“There may be some other people with backbones on this side and they will speak later, but we need a generation of politicians with a bit of spine, not jelly. And I will not be bullied by any of the whips."
By his own admission, Mr Pritchard comes from an “unorthodox background” for a Tory MP, spending the first five years of his life in an orphanage in Hereford before being brought up by a foster family.
Educated at a comprehensive school and the London Guildhall University, he went into marketing before launching his parliamentary career in 2005 as the MP for the Shropshire seat of The Wrekin.
Ambitious but fiercely independent – he once told John Bercow: “You are not fucking royalty, Mr Speaker” – he served as the secretary of the Tory MPs’ 1922 backbench committee.
In recent years he became caught up in speculation, which he strongly denied, that he could defect to Ukip.
His marriage to Sondra Pritchard ended last year.Reuse content