Phillips, Jess


Since entering Parliament at the 2015 election, Jess Phillips has earned a reputation as one of Westminster’s most outspoken MPs. Now established as a prominent figure in the Labour Party, Phillips made her name as a fierce critic of then Leader, Jeremy Corbyn.

Phillips has also won praise for her campaigning on issues such as antisemitism, sexual harassment and austerity. Briefly running in the 2020 Labour leadership election, Phillips stood on a platform of taking the Labour Party back to the centre-left.

Having dropped out of the race early, Phillips was subsequently appointed to the shadow cabinet with a brief focusing on domestic violence and safeguarding.

In November 2023, Phillips was the most high-profile Labour MP to quit the Labour frontbench over leader Keir Starmer’s stance on Gaza, after voting in the House of Commons for a Scottish National Party amendment calling for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Jess Phillips

Labour MP, Jess Phillips

Political Career

Phillips was selected to contest the seat of Birmingham Yardley from an all-women shortlist in 2013. Phillips subsequently won the constituency for Labour at the 2015 election, unseating the incumbent Liberal Democrat MP. At the 2019 General Election, Phillips held on to her seat with a slightly reduced majority of 10,659.

Phillips initially took on a role as the Parliamentary Private Secretary to Lucy Powell, the then-shadow Education Secretary. However, Phillips resigned alongside many of her colleagues during 2016 in protest at Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

On the backbenches, Phillips became known for her opposition to Corbyn, telling the Corbynite commentator, Owen Jones, ‘The day that you are hurting us more than you are helping us, I won’t knife you in the back, I’ll knife you in the front’.

Phillips put her name forward for the contest to be the next Labour Labour in 2020. As part of her pitch, Phillips promised to ‘truly speak truth to power’. However, Phillips failed to garner enough support, and dropped out of the race early.

After his victory in the Labour leadership race, Sir Keir Starmer handed Phillips a role in the Shadow Home Office team as shadow Minister for Domestic Violence and Safeguarding.

Opposition to Keir Starmer’s stance on Israel-Gaza 

Jess Phillips was the most high-profile Labour MP to quit the frontbench over Keir Starmer’s stance on Gaza, after voting in the House of Commons for a Scottish National Party amendment calling for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas conflict in November 2023.

She was one of 56 Labour MPs to vote for the amendment to the King’s Speech.

Jess Phillips: ‘What happens if Israel does not follow international law?’

The 10 frontbench resignations were as follows:

  • Paula Barker, Shadow Minister for devolution and the English Regions
  • Rachel Hopkins, Shadow Minister for Veterans
  • Afzal Khan, Shadow Minister for Legal Aid of the United Kingdom
  • Sarah Owen, Shadow Minister for Local Government and Faith
  • Jess Phillips, Shadow Minister for Domestic Violence and Safeguarding
  • Yasmin Qureshi, Shadow Minister for International Development
  • Naz Shah, Shadow Minister for Crime Reduction
  • Andy Slaughter, Shadow Solicitor General
  • Dan Carden, Parliamentary Private Secretary
  • Mary Foy, Parliamentary Private Secretary

Read Phillips’ resignation letter to Keir Starmer in full below:

Dear Keir,

This week has been one of the toughest weeks in politics since I entered parliament. I have tried to do everything that I could to make it so that this was not the outcome, but it is with a heavy heart that I will be leaving my post in the shadow Home Office team.

On this occasion I must vote with my constituents, my head, and my heart which has felt as if it were breaking over the last four weeks with the horror of the situation in Israel and Palestine.

I can see no route where the current military action does anything but put at risk the hope of peace and security for anyone in the region now and in the future.

It is with great regret that I walk away from the role of domestic abuse and safeguarding shadow minister, however I don’t walk away from the work. Working with Yvette Cooper on the mission to halve incidents of domestic abuse within 10 years of a Labour government has been an honour. I am so proud that it is your Labour party and hopefully your government that has prioritised the chance to deliver a sea change in women’s safety not just tinkering with the legislation but actual systematic change across housing health, welfare, and the criminal justice system.

I will continue to do everything I can to deliver a Labour government and real change in the field of women’s safety. I will join the backbenches committed to being nothing but an asset to the delivery of a better future and Labour government that the people where I live and represent are desperate to see.

Yours sincerely,

Jess Phillips

Political Views

Phillips is known for her campaigning on women’s issues, particularly those surrounding domestic violence. Phillips’ maiden speech in parliament urged the government to improve Britain’s response to ‘victims of domestic and sexual violence and abuse in all its forms’.

Every year, Phillips reads out a list of names of women killed by their partner or ex-partner to highlight domestic abuse.

Jess Phillips reads out names of women killed by men in UK over the last year

In 2021, Phillips spoke out about her experiences having been diagnosed with HPV (human papillomavirus) in her twenties. Phillips has called for the stigma and confusion around the common virus to be broken down, so that others do not have the same experiences of guilt and shame.

Phillips is not a ‘New Labour’-supporting politician, contrary to her criticisms of the Corbynite left. Indeed, Phillips quit the Labour Party in 2005 over her opposition to the Iraq War.

Despite representing a leave voting constituency, Phillips voted ‘Remain’ in the EU 2016 referendum and was early in her support for a ‘People’s Vote’ (a second referendum on EU membership).


How old is Jess Phillips?
Jessica Rose Phillips was born on the 9th of October 1981.

Phillips’ grandfather was a cartoonist for the Socialist Worker newspaper, and friend of the Labour politician, Tony Benn.

What did Jess Phillips do before entering Politics?
After graduating from Leeds University, Phillips began her career working for her parents’ company Health Links.  The firm specialised in running events for the health, social and environmental sectors.

In 2010, Phillips joined ‘Women’s Aid’, managing domestic abuse reports in the West Midlands.

Is Jess Phillips Married?
Phillips is married to Tom Phillips. The couple have two sons.  Phillips has talked about how she likes to go camping with her kids.

Social Media

Twitter – @jessphillips

Personal Website –

Jess Phillips criticised for £15,000 BBC appearance

Phillips gives passionate speech in favour of at home abortion service

Domestic abuse stats show women ‘being failed’ by government says Jess Phillips

Domestic abuse stats show women ‘being failed’ by government says Jess Phillips