Jess Phillips: ‘I enjoy feeling angry. It inspires me’

The Labour MP on the sit-down strike she organised in primary school, how she copes with death threats and what she reads to relax

Jess Phillips, 39, has been Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley since 2015 and is an outspoken crusader for women’s rights. She is married to a former lift engineer and they have two sons. Her new book, Everything You Really Need to Know About Politics: My Life As an MP, is a robustly autobiographical, entertaining attempt to demystify life in Westminster. Her mission is to enlighten the indifferent about what she does for a living, and why politics matter.

Have you always been outspoken? I bet you were a handful as a child – what did you protest about?
My parents had two older teenagers, so I flew under their radar. I probably was a handful but was seen as a bossy madam. At primary school, I was really good mates with a young black lad called Leon Burnett. I remember vividly a teacher scolding him for something he hadn’t done. I organised a sit-down strike in the playground. I was 10. The strike didn’t work, I got into trouble and had to stand with my face to the wall.

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