Constituency: Tonbridge and Malling (2015- )
Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee
Tom Tugendhat, a former soldier, entered Parliament at the 2015 General Election, inheriting the safe Conservative seat of Tonbridge and Malling from Sir John Stanley, who retired. In 2017 he was elected chairman of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee and was critical of Boris Johnson when he was Foreign Secretary.
Tugendhat is considered to be a pro-Israel MP. He used an article in the Spectator in 2017 to disagree with the UK’s condemning Israel in resolution 2334. He has also been critical of Iran and the JCPOA. In August he wrote in Conservative Home that it is “time for the Government to stand with its allies – and stand up to Iran”.
His family lineage includes Jewish Austrian, Catholic French and Anglo-Irish extraction; Tugendhat's grandfather, Georg Tugendhat was born in Vienna but came to United Kingdom after World War I to pursue his doctorate at the London School of Economics.
The family’s subsequently traced their forebears to the Polish town of Bielsko, Silesia which until 1918 had been called Bielitz when it was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. They have found the graves of 25 Tugendhats in the Jewish Cemetery which had closed in 1939. The family has helped to fund its restoration. He wrote about his experiences of antisemitism in a Jewish News article earlier this year.
He left the British Army in July 2014 after a career in which he served on operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and, most recently, as the military assistant to the Chief of the Defence Staff. As a Territorial Army officer he worked on everything from operations in Iraq and Afghanistan to establishing the Armed Forces Muslim Association. He also worked for the Foreign Office and helped set up the National Security Council of Afghanistan and the government in Helmand Province.
Having grown up in London and Sellinge, near Ashford, he read Theology at Bristol University where he also worked in the local homeless shelter in the St Paul’s area. He then studied for a Masters’ degree in Islamics at Cambridge University. His study included learning Arabic in Yemen.
After graduating, he went to Beirut as a journalist where he wrote about the conflict as well as regional politics and economics.
He established one of Lebanon’s first public relations companies and won major international clients. On returning to the UK, he was a management consultant before going into energy analysis in the City. At the same time he joined the Territorial Army.
When the Iraq War broke out in 2003, he was mobilised as an Arabic-speaking intelligence officer to serve with the Royal Marines. After the war he returned to his job in the City but was asked to help with the distribution of the New Iraqi Dinar as part of the economic reconstruction effort. Over the next six months he ran the central region – Baghdad and surrounding cities – and distributed much of the $4.5 billion-worth of cash that went into Iraq.
The next year saw a series of projects conducted on behalf of the British government and companies including helping to improve the Morocco's ports to ensure they were compliant with modern protocols. In 2005, he was asked by the Foreign Office to go to Afghanistan and help grow the National Security Council. Working in the Dari language, the project involved setting the strategic goals for a new office that coordinated Afghanistan’s strategic advice to President Karzai.
When one of the members of the National Security Council was named governor of Helmand Province, he asked for Tom Tugendhat to go with him as his adviser. Together, and this time working in Pashto, the language of southern Afghanistan, they set up the first non-warlord administration in Helmand since the Soviet invasion.
After two years in Afghanistan Tugendhat returned to the UK but his former Royal Marines unit was deploying to Helmand and asked him to go too. He agreed to be mobilised and served operationally for a further two years, for which he received the MBE, coming off his last patrol in July 2009.
On returning to the UK, he was asked by the new Chief of the General Staff (the head of the British Army) to work on the Army Strategy Team helping prepare for the Strategic Defence and Security Review.