Post-parliament prospects: What are these ex-politicians doing now?

From working for Facebook to leading the Evening Standard, careers after working in politics are more diverse than you might think

Post-parliament prospects: What are these ex-politicians doing now?

Photo credit: Ms Jane Campbell /

With many politicians ending their career before they even turn 50, there are still some years left before they can officially retire. However, while some may fear a life after their political powers have been relinquished, others have managed to make quite a living for themselves.

Here’s our list of eight ex-MPs who prove that there is indeed life after politics.

(1) Nick Clegg 

A great example that life after politics definitely exists is by observing former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg. After vacating Number 10 in 2015 then losing his seat as MP for Sheffield Hallam in 2017 to Jared O’Mara, it was time to look at new career opportunities. Fortunately for him, he didn’t have to wait long for a big opportunity to arise – Facebook announced in October 2018 it will hire Clegg as the company’s new VP of global affairs and communications. 

(2) Ed Miliband

What is the price of a sausage roll? That was something on Ed Miliband’s mind after stepping down as leader of the Labour party in 2015. Jeremy Corbyn’s predecessor has since become a host on Radio 2 and started a quizmaster career shortly after, asking about issues such as fees for meat-filled baked goods. Though he didn’t get the keys to Downing Street, he remains MP for Doncaster North but arguably receives more attention these days for his Twitter bants and Reasons to be Cheerful podcast.

(3) George Osborne

Being the MP for Tatton and editor for a newspaper at the same time? To you that may sound like a conflict of interest but for Osborne, this was nothing unusual. He was sacked by Theresa May in 2016 and after finally stepping down from being an MP in April 2017, Osborne didn’t need to go on a job hunt – he was already hired as editor for the Evening Standard in the month before. 

(4) David Cameron

Some find job hunting more difficult than others and George Osborne’s old boss David Cameron is a great example of this, having abdicated the prime minister’s throne to make way for Theresa May. This was followed by him leaving politics behind entirely three months later. He initially did some voluntary work and started writing his memoirs, the latter of which was part of a £800,000 deal. That was until securing his advisory job with First Data Corporation, the US electronic payments firm, where he was charged with supporting global growth. After this he landed his second job, leading a billion-dollar investment initiative agreed between the UK and China.

(5) Lembit Opik

Lembit Opik saw the funny side of things after his seat was snatched from underneath him in the 2010 general election. Indeed, the loss saw him try his hand at stand-up comedy with his first show at the Backstage Comedy Club in Leicester Square in June that year. Seemingly it’s not just prime minister Teresa May who loves a good laugh.

(6) Ruth Kelly 

The fact politics takes a strain on your family life is well-known, which is why Ruth Kelly, former MP for Bolton West who has held various Cabinet roles, stood down in 2010. However, she didn’t sit still. Kelly became the global head of client strategy at HSBC until she left the job in 2015, after which she was appointed to be pro-vice-chancellor for Research and Enterprise at St Mary’s University.

(7) Andrew Mackay 

Ending his political career path wasn’t really Mackay’s own choice but he did so after the MP expenses scandal, which resulted in him being asked to repay £31,000 in 2010. While being found guilty of fiddling the numbers would hamper the prospects of mere mortals, Mackay’s backlash did little and he landed a strategic adviser role at Burson-Marsteller, one of the biggest PR firms, which counted HSBC among clients at the time. Wonder if he did any work with Ruth Kelly?

(8) Rick Santorum 

Across the pond, former Pennsylvania senator and presidential candidate Rick Santorum and his post-politics job are a match made in heaven. Santorum became the CEO of EchoLight Studios, a Dallas-based Christian movie company in 2013 and has produced a couple of movies since then. Although he was always very religious, making the switch from politics to being the CEO of a movie company was quite an unexpected turn. However, he claimed there’s a bit of showbiz in every politician.

Even though a career in politics might end in tears, there are enough opportunities out there to make a good living. And from what Santorum’s said, it could pave the way to Tinseltown.

Anne Struijcken
Anne Struijcken

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