First elected as the Labour MP for the Welsh seat of Torfaen in 2015, Thomas-Symonds was reelected in 2019 with a majority of 3,742.
Thomas-Symonds currently serves in the Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade. He was appointed to the role in November 2021, having in effect been demoted from the role of Shadow Home Secretary, a post he held between 2020 and 2021.
He was previously the shadow Solicitor General between 2016 and 2020 under Jeremy Corbyn.
A member of Sir Keir Starmer’s inner circle, Thomas-Symonds worked previously as a barrister and lecturer.
Thomas-Symonds was selected as the Labour parliamentary candidate for his home seat of Torfaen on 7 March 2015 and won the seat at the following General Election.
Shortly after his election, Thomas-Symonds was named the shadow Minister for Work and Pensions, before being promoted to shadow Employment Minister in January 2016. However, he soon resigned this position alongside many of his shadow cabinet colleagues in protest at Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.
In October 2016, Thomas-Symonds retuned to the Opposition front bench as shadow Solicitor-General. In July 2017, he was given the added responsibility as the shadow Minister for Security.
On Thomas-Symonds’ almost imperceptible rise through the Labour Party ranks, one colleague said, ‘We see him as absolutely dead-centre of the Labour Party, someone who will try and build bridges with all wings … He kept his head down. But in a sense, he was able to do that because the stuff he did really well on, involved handling quite niche bits of legislation. The obvious thing is that he hasn’t had to confront the political choices where he will have to disappoint some people’.
Born in 1980, Thomas-Symonds was brought up in Blaenavon, where he attended St. Felix R.C. Primary School. He went to study at St. Alban’s R.C. High School, Pontypool, here he later served as a Governor (2007-2015).
Thomas-Symonds read Politics, Philosophy and Economics at St Edmund Hall, Oxford, graduating in 2001. Although only 21, he was retained by his tutors as a lecturer in the politics of Britain, America and the Soviet Union.
Thomas-Symonds then trained as a barrister and was recommended for commercial litigation in the Legal 500 directory. He was also listed as a ‘Leader in the Field’ in chancery and commercial dispute resolution by the Chambers UK Guide.
Thomas-Symonds’ father was a steelworker and industrial chemist and his mother was a secretary. He met his wife, Rebecca, when they were both teenagers at St Alban’s High School in Pontypool. They have two daughters, a son, and their dog, Pippa.
Things you might not know
Connection to the Trump administration
When teaching at Oxford, Thomas-Symonds tutored former White House Press Secretary and Trump loyalist, Kayleigh McEnany.
The Labour Welsh Tradition
On his weekly commute to Westminster, Thomas-Symonds drives past the childhood home of Roy Jenkins. In fact, the shadow Home Secretary is one one of seven former Labour MPs who come from the one tiny community of Abersychan: Daniel Granville West, Roy Jenkins, Arthur Jenkins, William Coldrick, Paul Murphy and Don Touhig.
Thomas-Symonds the Biographer
Thomas-Symonds has written two biographies of Labour Politicians, Clement Attlee: A Life in Politics (2010) and Nye: The Political Life of Aneurin Bevan (2014). He is said to be working on a third, following the life of Harold Wilson.
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