A working farmer in Staffordshire, Phillip Bennion MEP is one of the Liberal Democrats' leading agricultural and economic policy specialists with experience at European and global level. He took over as Liberal Democrat Euro MP for the West Midlands region in March 2012.
Born in Tamworth, he attended Queen Elizabeth Grammar School and later studied for a BSc and PhD in Agriculture and Agronomy from Aberdeen and Newcastle. Whilst running his family farm, Phil studied for his 1st class degree in History and Economic History at Birmingham University. A former county chairman of the NFU, he has also worked with Government Offices and the former RDA as well as MEPs and MPs on sustainable farming policies and renewable energy.
Phil has been an active Liberal Democrat campaigner for over 20 years:
- A local councillor on Lichfield DC from 1999 to 2011. Contested four General Elections and 3 European elections, being elected to No 2 on the West Midlands Lib Dem candidate list in 2009. Under the terms of the party list electoral system chosen by the last UK government, Phil Bennion succeeded Liz Lynne as Lib Dem MEP for the West Midlands region after she stood down in February 2012.
- Member of the Employment and Social Affairs Committee and the Transport Committee of the European Parliament.
- Chair of the LibDem European Group (LDEG) and edits the innovative Eurofile magazine which reports on European news from a Liberal Democrat point of view. Phil continues to be closely involved with the European Liberal Democrats and Reform party (ELDR) and is a member of their council. He regularly represents the party at Liberal International congresses and meetings around the world.
- A member of the LibDem International Relations Committee formulating the approach to issues as Israel/Palestine, Kosovo, Kashmir and Darfur. Phil will continue to prioritise justice and peace issues especially Kashmir as MEP.
- Phil advised Charles Kennedy on agricultural issues during his leadership and was elected to the party’s Federal Policy Committee for 8 years. He worked up and was an early advocate of the policy to scrap income tax on the first £10,000 as the top tax priority, a plan now being carried out by the UK coalition government. As a member of the Policy Working Group on Europe, Phil led on the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) and drafted the current Lib Dem policy on CAP reform. He also served on the Climate Change Working Group and the Natural Environment Working Group.
- A supporter of high quality public transport, Phil is a member of Railfuture. He supports an integrated high speed rail network though remains concerned by some aspects of the HS2 proposal. He is a member of the backbench Liberal Democrat Transport Committee at Westminster.
- Phil continues to live at his family farm in Staffordshire with his wife Penny, though day to day farm operations have been contracted out.