Gillian Keegan (born 13 March 1968) is a British Conservative Party politician who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Chichester since the 2017 general election. She is the constituency's first female MP. In February 2020 she was appointed as the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Apprenticeships and Skills and is the first former apprentice to hold the office.
Keegan grew up in Knowsley, Merseyside, and went to St Augustine of Canterbury Secondary School (renamed St Thomas Becket Catholic High School) in Huyton. She has a bachelor's degree in Business Studies from Liverpool John Moores University and a Master of Science in Strategy and Leadership (Sloan Fellowship) from London Business School in 2011.
Keegan started her career aged 16 as an apprentice at a car factory in Kirkby and went on to have a business career working at Delco Electronics (part of the General Motors Group), NatWest Bank (Senior Buyer), MasterCard International (Commercial Director), Amadeus IT Group (Group Vice President of Multinational Customer Group based in Madrid) and Travelport (Chief Marketing Officer) over 27 years.
Keegan has said that it was her experiences of trade unionism and the Militant-controlled Liverpool City Council while working in Kirkby in the 1980s that convinced her to support the Conservative Party. However, she did not become active in politics until 2014. In 2015, she was advised in her ambitions to become an MP by Justine Greening, whom she met by chance at a London Business School (LBS) reunion; according to her, this demonstrated the power of the LBS network. She unsuccessfully contested the constituency of St Helens South and Whiston in the 2015 general election. In 2015 she became Director of Women2Win—an organisation founded by Theresa May and Baroness Anne Jenkin in 2005 to help elect more women Conservative MPs to Parliament. She had left that position by September 2017.
Keegan was elected as a councillor for the Rogate ward on Chichester District Council in 2014. She was appointed cabinet member for commercial services in May 2015. She stood down as a councillor in February 2018 and in the election that followed in April 2018, the seat was taken by the Liberal Democrat candidate Kate O'Kelly. Keegan went on to beat O'Kelly by 21,490 votes in the General Election in December 2019.
Keegan was selected as the Conservative Parliamentary candidate for the Chichester constituency in May 2017, and was elected to the House of Commons in the General Election held on 8 June 2017. In September 2017, she was appointed to the Public Accounts Committee. She was appointed Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to HM Treasury in September 2018. In January 2019, she became Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Defence.
In February 2019, Keegan was appointed as MP Apprenticeship Ambassador by Anne Milton, with responsibility to support apprenticeship schemes and promote them both within Parliament and to businesses within the UK, working alongside the Apprenticeship Ambassador Network consisting of various advocates of apprenticeship schemes. She endorsed Rory Stewart during the 2019 Conservative Party leadership election.
Keegan became PPS to the Home Secretary in May 2019, and PPS to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care in September 2019. In February 2020, she was appointed as the new Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Apprenticeships and Skills, a junior ministerial role at the Department for Education.
In August 2020, Keegan was criticised for being on holiday during the A-Level results crisis. She defended herself by stating that she was not the Minister responsible for A-Level and GCSE qualifications. She said that although she had been the duty Minister for the first two weeks of summer recess, she had obtained special permission to take her government PC to continue working during this period.
Keegan was a member of the Board of Governors of Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust from 2015 to 2017.
Keegan lives in Petworth in West Sussex with her husband, Michael, and has two stepsons.
Her father-in-law, Denis Keegan, was Conservative MP for Nottingham South.
Keegan is godmother to two of former Speaker John Bercow's children.
Keegan owns several properties and has homes in France and Spain. Michael was the CEO of Fujitsu UK and Ireland from April 2014 to June 2015, and then Head of the EMEIA Technology Business, before leaving the company in 2018. Criminal prosecutions of postmasters by the Post Office using Horizon data had ceased before Michael Keegan was appointed as CEO of Fujitsu UK and Ireland for 15 months commencing April 2014.