TUGENDHAT Thomas Georg John
Person
TUGENDHAT Thomas Georg John

TUGENDHAT
Thomas
Georg
John

Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee

Organization: Parliament of the United Kingdom

Date of Birth: 27 June 1973

Age: 50 years old

Place of Birth: Westminster, London, England

Zodiac sign: Cancer

Profession: Chairman

Content

Biography

Thomas Georg John Tugendhat MBE VR (born 27 June 1973) is a British Conservative Party politician serving as Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee since 2017. He has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Tonbridge and Malling since 2015. Before entering politics, he worked as a journalist and as a public relations consultant in the Middle East. He also had a part-time role as an officer in the British Army reserves, the Territorial Army, and served in the Iraq War and the War in Afghanistan.

Early life and education

Tom Tugendhat is the son of Sir Michael Tugendhat, the High Court judge, and his French wife, Blandine de Loisne. He is the nephew of The Baron Tugendhat, a businessman and fellow Conservative politician. After attending St Paul's School, London, Tugendhat studied Theology at the University of Bristol, before doing a Masters degree course in Islamic studies at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, and learning Arabic in Yemen.

Tugendhat holds dual British and French citizenship. His wife is a French judge and senior civil servant, and his father-in-law is a French diplomat, the lead Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe mediator in Ukraine. Tugendhat is a Catholic, Jewish ancestry.

Military career

On 6 July 2003, Tugendhat was commissioned into the Educational and Training Services Branch of the Adjutant General's Corps, Territorial Army, British Army, as a second lieutenant (on probation). His Territorial Army commission was confirmed on 16 July 2003. He transferred to the Intelligence Corps on 29 July 2003.

He was promoted to lieutenant on 16 July 2005, captain on 1 April 2007, and to major on 1 January 2010. He was a Territorial Army lieutenant colonel by July 2013.

Tugendhat served during the Iraq War and the War in Afghanistan. He also served, in a civilian capacity, for the Foreign Office in Afghanistan and helped set up the National Security Council of Afghanistan and the government in Helmand Province. He later served as one of the military assistants to the Chief of the Defence Staff.

Political career

Tugendhat was elected as the Member of Parliament for Tonbridge and Malling, the safe Conservative seat in Kent, at the 2015 General Election, with an increased vote share and larger majority than his predecessor.

In October 2015, Tugendhat accused Iran of arming insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan:

"Through the Quds Force, the special forces unit of the regime’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, it has killed British troops and plotted to assassinate diplomats in Washington DC. The ayatollahs have nurtured terrorists around the world."

Tugendhat supported continued membership of the European Union in the 2016 referendum. He voted in favour of the withdrawal agreement negotiated by Theresa May's government on each of the three occasions it was put to a vote.

Tugendhat is a strong supporter of Israel. He condemned the United Nations Security Council for its official criticism of Israel's settlement building in the occupied Palestinian territories. In January 2017, he wrote that the Israeli–Palestinian conflict "doesn't matter" in an article about the demands of protestors in the Arab Spring and concluded that "Why was it more pressing than other disputed territories such as Western Sahara, Kashmir or Tibet? It isn't. It simply deflects attention for those most in need of a diversion".

On 12 July 2017, Tugendhat was elected chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, becoming the youngest person ever to hold the post. Soon after the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury by a nerve agent, Tugendhat said the attack was "if not an act of war … certainly a warlike act by the Russian Federation".

In February 2018, Tugendhat praised Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman:

"He is rightly showing a vision for Saudi Arabia that sees her taking her place as a player in the global economy and I think that is incredibly positive, not just for Saudi Arabia, but for the world."

Under Tugendhat's chairmanship the Foreign Affairs Committee has focused on British foreign policy priorities after Brexit. Other significant enquiries have covered: the implications of China's growing role in the international system, the UK's relationship with India, and the Responsibility to Protect.

On 21 May 2018, the Foreign Affairs Committee published a report on Russian corruption and the UK. This drew attention to the ability of President Vladimir Putin and his allies to launder assets through London, and called on the UK Government to "show stronger political leadership in ending the flow of dirty money into the UK". The report criticised the law firm Linklaters for its unwillingness to give evidence to the committee about the nature of working in the Russian Federation today.

On 29 May 2018, Tugendhat set out his own views on British foreign policy in a speech at the Royal United Services Institute. He advocated giving the Foreign and Commonwealth Office greater powers to determine overall foreign policy strategy.

On 7 November 2018, Tugendhat gave a speech on "community conservatism" at an event organised by the Social Market Foundation. In it he described how his military experience had drawn him into politics and outlined several ways in which the government could encourage businesses to better serve the communities in which they operate.

Tugendhat was a participant at the 30 May–2 June 2019 Bilderberg Meeting in Montreux, Switzerland.

Following the December 2019 general election, Tugendhat criticised the antisemitism he had faced during the campaign:

"It was a campaign that wasn't always as clean as previous ones. For the first time I faced antisemitism, which I found particularly offensive and very surprising for a community like this and frankly rather distasteful. It's very un-Tonbridge, it's very un-Kent and it's very un-British. ... I would hope that type of attitude is going to leave our politics for good."

Tugendhat was re-elected chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee on 29 January 2020.

In a recorded conversation with American politician Mike Gallagher, Tugendhat gave an off-the-cuff outline of his foreign policy outlook as:

"...trying to defend the world in which the values that matter to the people of the United Kingdom, and more particularly, the people of Kent, prosper. And those values are freedom, democracy, the ability to challenge authority and the ability to trade and travel globally."

In the wake of the Fall of Kabul in August 2021, Tugendhat described the event in The Times as Britain's "biggest foreign policy disaster since Suez". On 18 August, in the House of Commons, Tugendhat was applauded after giving a powerful speech that drew on his own military experiences in Afghanistan. It concluded, "This doesn't need to be defeat, but right now it damn well feels like it."

China

In April 2020, Tugendhat founded the China Research Group alongside fellow Conservative MP Neil O'Brien. The group was formed to gain a "better understanding of China's economic ambitions and global role". This is to include Huawei's role in the UK's 5G network (see: Concerns over Chinese involvement in 5G wireless networks), China's COVID-19 disinformation campaign, and its foreign policy, in particular its relations with poorer regions of the world. Tugendhat is considered by some to be a China hawk in the British Parliament, alongside Bob Seely and Sir Iain Duncan Smith.

In August 2020, Tugendhat received a letter at his home address, sent from Hong Kong and containing a prayer regarding his criticism of China's policies. On Twitter, Tugendhat said that this was sent by the Chinese authorities to threaten him, though this was not independently verified.

On 26 March 2021, it was announced that Tugendhat was one of five MPs to be sanctioned by China for spreading what it called "lies and disinformation" about the country. He was subsequently banned from entering China, Hong Kong and Macau, and Chinese citizens and institutions are prohibited from doing business with him.

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