Ann Widdecombe, 64, was first elected to the House of Commons in 1987. She was MP for Maidstone and the Weald (formerly Maidstone) until 2010 and held various ministerial positions. Her first novel, The Clematis Tree, was published in 2000.

What was your earliest ambition?

To be an astronaut. I wanted to be various things: a missionary, a Latin teacher.

Public school or state school? University or straight into work?

The Royal Naval School, Singapore, then boarding school in Bath. Then Latin at Birmingham university and philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford. I used Oxford for doing other things; the Oxford Union, the Conservatives.

Who was or still is your mentor?

I don’t have one, though I had tremendous respect for one of my Latin teachers, Sister Mary Evangelista.

How physically fit are you?

Very. I can do things from a standing start – as you’ll have seen when I did Strictly Come Dancing.

Ambition or talent: which matters more to success?

Ambition. If you have talent and do nothing with it, you waste it.

Early ambition: to be an astronaut

Have you ever taken an IQ test?

Yes. The last time I was in my 20s and I was applying to join Unilever as a management trainee. I got in so it couldn’t have been a disaster.

How politically committed are you?


Do you consider your carbon footprint?

Not in the least. I am a great sceptic on man-made global warming. The idea that you can influence the temperature of the planet by what lightbulbs you use is like throwing a sugarlump into Loch Ness and saying you’ve sweetened the water.

Do you have more than one home?

I don’t now. I deliberately didn’t keep on a London flat when I came to Devon as I wanted to become completely Devon-centric.

What would you like to own that you don’t currently possess?

A family of cats and dogs.

What’s your biggest extravagance?

The renovations on my house. If I live as long as my mother, I’ll be in this house for more than 30 years so I didn’t skimp. I’ve got the best kitchen in Devon.

Home: Devon

In what place are you happiest?


What ambitions do you still have?

When I did Strictly and the Strictly tour, and now pantomime, everybody said I had a new career in showbusiness. It’s not a new career, I’ve retired, but I don’t want to slow down for a very long time.

What drives you on?

The recognition that you’ve only got one life this side of eternity. You get one go on this earth and you should make the most of every moment.

What is the greatest achievement of your life so far?

Becoming shadow home secretary.

What has been your greatest disappointment?

That my brother died when he was 73. I had just retired and we’d been looking forward to seeing a lot more of each other.

If your 20-year-old self could see you now, what would she think?

She’d be so relieved. She would think: “So a lot of it really is going to happen. I’m going to be in Parliament, I’m going to be in government, I’m going to publish novels.”

If you lost everything tomorrow, what would you do?

Go off to the developing world to remind myself that none of it really matters.

Do you believe in assisted suicide?

Absolutely not. If you put that into law, in 10 years time probably no granny would be safe. No matter how closely it was hedged about, it would become a runaway bus.

Do you believe in an afterlife?


If you had to rate your satisfaction with your life so far, out of 10, what would you score?


For details of Ann Widdecombe’s theatre tour see

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