- 1. Early life
- 2. Parliamentary career
- 3. Personal life
Member of Parliament for South East Cornwall
Organization: Conservative Party (UK)
Date of Birth: 4 February 1956
Age: 67 years old
Place of Birth: Millbrook, Cornwall, England
Sheryll Murray (formerly Sheryll Hickman; born 4 February 1956) is a Conservative Party politician and former receptionist. She was first elected as the Member of Parliament (MP) for South East Cornwall at the 2010 general election.
Sheryll Murray was born on 4 February 1956 in the village of Millbrook, Cornwall, to Cornish parents, her mother's family lived at Millbrook and her father's family originated from the village of Calstock. She was state educated at Millbrook Primary and Torpoint Community College. Murray left the latter at the age of 16 with 5 O-Levels and worked for the South Western Electricity Board. She then worked for an insurance underwriter and later as a medical receptionist at a GP surgery. She served as a Governor of Torpoint School for nine years until 2008, before standing down to concentrate on campaigning for the forthcoming general election.
Prior to her parliamentary career, Murray represented Rame as a Cornwall County Councillor before losing her seat in 2005, and served as Leader of the Conservative Group on Caradon District Council, when a councillor for Millbrook, prior to its abolition in 2009.
Murray was selected to contest South East Cornwall in 2010 and gained the seat with a majority of 3,220 and a 9% swing from the Liberal Democrats to the Conservatives. Murray was the constituency's first ever female MP. In May 2012, she was elected to the 1922 Committee by her Conservative Parliamentary colleagues.
Also in May 2012, she came 12th in the private member's bill ballot. Her Bill, the Marine Navigation (No.2) Bill received Royal Assent as the Marine Navigation Act 2013 in April 2013. In May 2013, she came 4th in the ballot, and introduced a Bill which received Royal Assent as the Deep Sea Mining Act 2014 in May 2014.
Murray supported Brexit in the 2016 European Union Referendum.
The Conservative whips' office apologised for Murray's behaviour after she was reportedly drunk and disorderly in the House of Commons bar in 2010. Murray was later heavily criticised for signing a letter calling for tougher regulation of the press on the basis of her experience of press criticism following her behaviour.
In 2016, the Labour Party unsuccessfully proposed an amendment in Parliament that would have required private landlords to make their homes "fit for human habitation". According to Parliament's register of interests, Murray was one of 72 Conservative MPs who voted against the amendment who personally derived an income from renting out property. The Conservative Government had responded to the amendment that they believed homes should be fit for human habitation but did not want to pass the new law that would explicitly require it.
During the 2017 general election campaign in early June, Murray said at a hustings meeting: "If for instance somebody had moved house, or if their financial situation had changed while they're going through the reassessment and their benefits are delayed, then sometimes they need to call upon the food banks. But I am really pleased we have food banks in south east Cornwall". These comments sparked widespread anger. Audience members at the event booed Murray, to whom Murray responded with a gesture with her hand towards the group booing her and commented to the rest of the audience, "... and let's ignore these people". One woman heckled her, who Murray threatened with the threat of calling the police to remove the woman from the hustings after she refused to leave the event. Later, she clarified her comments: "Nobody is saying a person going hungry is a good thing and everything must be done to stop this. Whilst we work to eradicate hunger however the food banks themselves do provide a good service".
After her re-election, Murray called for greater regulation of social media content and protection of MPs from intimidation after stating that during the campaign she was personally subjected to sustained abuse from users on social media.
On 15 November 2018, Murray submitted a letter of no confidence in Theresa May's leadership. The next month, Murray claimed she would vote against the Prime Minister in the Conservative no confidence vote. As the vote is conducted through secret ballot, this cannot be confirmed.
In the House of Commons she sits on the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee. She has previously sat on the Environmental Audit Committee. Her main policy interests are the environment and tourism; she has campaigned on fisheries issues as a spokesperson for Save Britain's Fish and is a member of the Fishermen's Association.
On 10 March 2021, she took the opportunity of a Prime Minister's Question to suggest that British people should take advantage of Brexit to eat more British-caught fish.
In March 2022, Murray called for the creation of a national 'Margaret Thatcher Day', which was endorsed by minister Kemi Badenoch.
Her first marriage was to Jon Whitehall, a geologist. They divorced after seven years. Murray then married trawlerman Neil Murray, who died in a fishing accident on 24 March 2011. A search by local fishermen and the emergency services discovered his body on board his boat Our Boy Andrew. Murray has one daughter and one son. Her daughter Sally from her first marriage is an officer in the Royal Navy. Her son Andrew from her second marriage works in marine electronics. Her long-term partner since 2013 was her campaign manager and office manager Robert Davidson. They were married in March 2019 in the House of Commons.
Murray employs her husband as her Office Manager on a salary up to £40,000. The practice of MPs employing family members has been criticised by some sections of the media, on the lines that it promotes nepotism. Although MPs who were first elected in 2017 have been banned from employing family members, the restriction is not retrospective – meaning that Murray's employment of her husband is lawful.