New additions to our expanded team at Policy Exchange

Policy Exchange, Westminster’s leading think tank, has announced new additions to our expanding team in Westminster, increasing our ability to develop innovative policy solutions that command consensus across the political divide. 

Foreign policy expert Sophia Gaston will be heading up the Foreign Affairs Unit, former No.10 Chief of Staff Nick Timothy joins as a Senior Fellow along with Boris Johnson’s former senior transport adviser Andrew Gilligan and Air Marshal Edward Stringer CB CBE, former Director-General of the Defence Academy.

They join Policy Exchange’s new senior management team with former House of Lords special adviser Hannah Ellis and former Education special adviser Iain Mansfield leading on policy and research and ex-Treasury, Education and Housing special adviser Tom Kennedy also joining as Policy Exchange’s new Director of Communications.

Collectively, this expanded new team represent a major upgrading of Policy Exchange’s ability to deliver on both domestic and foreign policy in a climate marked by increasing economic turmoil and emerging global threats. Internationally, the war in Ukraine, the rising threat of China, the transformation of trade and supply chains into a potential economic battleground, uncontrolled illegal immigration and the ever-evolving threat of extremism mean that Britain faces more, and more complex, threats than it has for decades.

If the UK is to thrive in this uncertain world, we will need a more confident, integrated approach to foreign and security policy, that better integrates economic, military and political factors to ensure British interests at home and abroad.

Domestically, economic upheavals and lacklustre growth will place infrastructure, housing and public services increasingly in the spotlight. A more challenging fiscal environment and declining confidence in public services means new policy thinking will be needed to avoid ongoing managed decline. Public services must find new models of delivery; Gordian knots in planning and childcare must be cut and our approach to major infrastructure projects fundamentally overhauled if we are to regain the growth that underlies prosperity.

Whether it is in energy generation, housing, or health care – or in managing our borders or policing protests – the UK state too often is in a state of ‘learned helplessness’; bound by cords of inaction, despite the problems being well understood. It is these challenges, amongst the most significant to future UK prosperity and security, that Policy Exchange’s research agenda will seek to find solutions for.

Sophia Gaston is a London-based foreign policy expert, and a leading international researcher into strengthening the resilience of advance liberal democracies in the 21st Century. Sophia most recently spent three years as the Director of the British Foreign Policy Group, which under her leadership grew to become a highly respected and influential think tank supporting the advancement of the Global Britain agenda. She is also a Visiting Research Fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and an Academic Fellow at the European Policy Centre in Brussels. Sophia has pioneered quantitative and qualitative research into the evolving social attitudes on foreign policy in the United Kingdom, establishing the gold-standard annual survey on public opinion on international affairs. She has written several highly influential studies into how to bring together domestic and international policy agendas, as a means of supporting public consent for more open, ambitious and connected foreign policy missions.

Nick Timothy is an author and columnist for the Daily Telegraph and the Critic. He is a Visiting Professor at the University of Sheffield, and a board member of the Department for Education and the Government’s Sports Survival Package.Previously he was Theresa May’s joint chief of staff in Downing Street and her special adviser in the Home Office. He is also a former Director of the New Schools Network, a charity that helps people to set up free schools, and a former Deputy Director of the Conservative Research Department.

Andrew Gilligan was a policy adviser on transport and infrastructure to the Prime Minister from 2019 to 2022 and also advised Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP as Mayor of London (2013-16). Previously he was a senior correspondent of The Sunday Times and had also served as head of the Capital City Foundation at Policy Exchange. Between 2013 and 2016 he also worked as cycling commissioner for London.

Air Marshal Edward Stringer CB CBE is a Senior Fellow at Policy Exchange. He is a retired senior Royal Air Force officer and Director-General of the Defence Academy. He also served as Director-General of Joint Force Development, Strategic Command from April 2018 to March 2021. He served as Assistant Chief of the Air Staff from April 2013 to January 2015, and as Assistant Chief of the Defence Staff (Operations) from March 2015 to 2018.

Hannah Ellis is Director of Policy. She joined Policy Exchange in 2022 after a decade of working in parliament and government. Most recently, she served as a Special Adviser to the Leader of the House of Lords and Lords Chief Whip, managing the passage of government legislation during the implementation of Brexit and throughout the pandemic. Prior to this, she worked in the House of Commons as Chief of Staff to a Member of Parliament and Select Committee Chair. She has also worked as a campaign manager and led an operations team during the 2019 General Election delivering the Prime Minister’s events and visits.

Iain Mansfield is Director of Research and Head of Education and Science at Policy Exchange. He is a former Special Adviser to three Education Ministers, including Education Secretary Gavin Williamson and Universities Ministers Jo Johnson and Michelle Donelan. Prior to that he has held a variety of senior positions in the private and public sector, including as a Senior Civil Servant at the Department for Education, as Director of UK Trade and Investment, The Philippines in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and as Head of Public Sector at the Association of Chartered and Certified Accountants. He has served as a University Governor and as a Director of a British Chamber of Commerce. Iain has also worked as Head of Public Sector at the Association of Chartered and Certified Accountants, a global professional education organisation, and has served as a University Governor.

Tom Kennedy joined Policy Exchange in October 2022. Tom was previously a Special Adviser to Rt Hon Nadhim Zahawi MP at the Treasury and Department for Education (2021-2022), Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP at the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (2019-2021) and Baroness Evans in her time as Leader of the House of Lords (2018-2019) and was also seconded to No.10 Downing Street and the Home Office. He has also worked for Rt Hon Jesse Norman MP and has external experience in the pharmaceutical industry.

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