The Rt Hon the Baroness Ashton GCMG

Distinguished Fellow

Baroness Ashton is a Life Peer in the House of Lords. Before joining the Lords she worked as a Director for Business in the Community, committed to Inner City Regeneration and supporting minority communities to get better employment opportunities. She was also the Vice President of the National Council for One Parent Families.  

She has served as a minister in the Department for Education and Skills, and subsequently in the Department for Constitutional Affairs and Ministry of Justice.  

She was appointed Leader of the House of Lords and Lord President of the Queen's Privy Council in Gordon Brown’s first Cabinet in June 2007. In 2005 she was voted House Magazine Minister of the Year and Channel 4 Peer of the Year. She became the first ever Politician of the Year from the organisation Stonewall for her work on Equality issues.  

In 2008, she was appointed as the first woman to be a British European Commissioner and became the first female Commissioner for Trade in the European Commission. During her time as Trade Commissioner she initialled an ambitious and far-reaching free trade agreement with South Korea, solved a number of high-profile trade disputes with major trading partners, and championed trade as a means of promoting development around the world.

In 2009, she became the European Union's first High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and won praise for her work as a negotiator in difficult international situations, particularly for her role in bringing Serbia and Kosovo to agreement in 2013 and in the P5+1 talks with Iran which led to the November 2013 Geneva interim agreement on the Iranian nuclear program and laid the foundations for the final agreement.

She has received numerous awards for her diplomatic work including the highest diplomatic honours from the King of Jordan and most recently from Germany. Together with the PMs of Serbia and Kosovo she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. On leaving office she was awarded the Grand Cross of St Michael and St George [GCMG] by HM The Queen. 

She is currently chair of the John Smith Trust; a distinguished practitioner at the Blavatnik School of Government, Oxford University; and a Woodrow Wilson Scholar in the USA. She is a member of the European Leaders Network and the Global Leadership Foundation.  She has just been appointed the first woman Chancellor of Warwick University.