Following the retirement of Dame Angela Watkinson after sixteen years as Hornchurch & Upminster's local MP, our local Conservative Association ran a competitive selection for a new parliamentary candidate in April 2017.
The Association voted to adopt me as Dame Angela's replacement and after a lively campaign of street stalls, door-knocking, leafleting and meetings, I was elected as Hornchurch & Upminster’s new MP at the 2017 General Election, securing 60 per cent of the vote and a majority of 17,723.
I was born in Harlow, Essex, as Julia Dockerill and grew up in Stansted with my Mum, Dad and two sisters. My Mum was a primary school teacher and now runs a small tuition business, while my Dad started his career at Unigate, managing a dairy in Chadwell Heath, and later ran SMEs and helped with family business turnarounds. I went to my local state primary and secondary schools, Bentfield Primary and Herts & Essex High, and later secured a place at Queens' College, University of Cambridge, to read Social and Political Sciences.
After university I moved to East London, and in 2014 entered elected politics for the first time as a councillor in Tower Hamlets. It was the experience of corruption, electoral fraud and maladministration in the borough under former Mayor, Lutfur Rahman, that inspired me to stand. I sat on the council's strategic planning committee, deciding large-scale developments in urban regeneration areas across the East End and in Canary Wharf at a time when the borough was the fastest-growing region of the UK. I have also been Scrutiny Lead for Children’s Services, spearheading investigations on free schools and reform of the youth service after widespread allegations of misconduct.
My career has involved leading the office of a Central London MP, where I worked extremely closely with financial and professional services firms in the City of London, as well as small businesses and creative industries. I have co-authored two books on the financial crash and its aftermath, and have been writing and researching my own book, London in the Noughties, for which I have interviewed a number of leading figures in the capital about how London has changed between 2000 and 2010. Since 2015 I have worked with the Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe (ACRE) to strengthen international trade and party alliances in developing nations and across Europe, most recently in order to lay groundwork for the UK’s Brexit deal. I voted to Leave the European Union at the 2016 referendum. I have also worked with the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WfD), to make political systems and parties more resilient and robust in developing nations, and I was a trustee of education charity, Inspire Malawi.
I got married in September 2017 to my partner, who is British Australian and was born in El Salvador, and took on his name of Lopez. That same month I was elected by fellow MPs to sit on the International Trade Select Committee.