Rt Hon Joan Ryan
Member of Parliament
Change UK Party
Rt Hon Joan Ryan MP is a member of the British House of Commons and served in the government of Tony Blair. Joan is the honorary president of Labour Friends of Israel and is a high-profile advocate for the Jewish state in parliament.
In February 2019, she resigned from Labour over the failure of its hard-left leader, Jeremy Corbyn, to tackle antisemitism in the party. Her resignation, which attracted widespread media coverage, sharply criticised Corbyn for “presiding over a culture of antisemitism and hatred of Israel”.
She is a founding member of the new political party, The Independent Group for Change and is its chief whip in parliament.
Joan was re-elected in the 2017 General Election with an increased majority of 10,247. She regained the seat in the 2015 General Election, having previously served as the representative for the constituency from 1997 to 2010.
A former teacher, Joan held a senior role in a London local authority before being elected as an MP. She served in the whips office before Tony Blair appointed her to the Home Office. After Gordon Brown became prime minister in 2007, Joan was appointed vice-chair of the Labour party and became the government’s Special Representative to Cyprus.
Joan served as chair of Labour Friends of Israel from 2015-2019. In parliament, she has led the campaign to prevent UK aid being used by the Palestinian Authority to incite violence and glorify terrorism. She has also worked with the Alliance for Middle East Peace to promote the establishment of an International Fund for Israeli-Palestinian Peace. Thanks to her efforts, the British government last year became the first in the world to endorse the Fund. Following her appointment by the Speaker of the House of Commons, Joan joined the Panel of Chairs in 2017. Its members chair Public Bill Committees and other general committees, as well as debates in Westminster Hall.
During her time away from Parliament, Joan was the Chief Executive of the Global Tamil Forum working on human rights and humanitarian issues in Sri Lanka. She served as the Chair of the charity Riders for Health, from 2011-2015, which has helped to improve access to life-saving treatment and medical care for 21 million people across seven countries in sub-Saharan Africa. She was the deputy director of the successful NO to AV national referendum campaign on the UK voting system. In addition, Joan worked as a training consultant strengthening democracy and parliamentary procedures with a number of organisations.