Could Brad Pitt’s loss be the House of Lords’ gain? There have been reports that Angelina Jolie is contemplating moving to Britain full-time. This would allow a fresh start after the break-up of her marriage to Pitt.
— Mubina Kapasi (@MubinaKapasi) September 27, 2016
London would also be a good location for her to pursue her international humanitarian causes alongside her friend and ally Lord Hague, the former British Foreign Secretary. She has already begun to put down roots. Last year she set up the UK-registered Jolie Pitt Dalton Helic foundation, a non-profit organisation which focuses on women’s rights. She is also a visiting professor at the London School of Economics.
It would naturally follow that she might pursue a political career over here as the most effective way to see the changes she believes in introduced.
I’m afraid the House of Commons would not seem the place for her. For a start there is the legal impediment “people wishing to stand as an MP must be over 18 years of age, be a British citizen or citizen of a Commonwealth country or the Republic of Ireland.” Angelina would need to have lived here for five years to “naturalise” and be eligible for British citizenship – unless she married a Brit, in which case it would only take two years.
But this is a woman on a mission. Her burning sense to tackling injustice in the world has made her impatient. Furthermore, the residency rules would require her to spend no more than 450 days outside the UK during those five years – a tiresome restriction for the Special Envoy for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
In any case, which party would she represent? And would she be suited to the rough and tumble of party politics?
As an actress she would have an ability to adapt but even so, it is hard to envisage her on the green benches of the Commons shouting and jeering during Prime Minister’s Question Time. Also, while the issues that preoccupy her are without doubt political, they are not party political.
None of these objections would apply to Angelina Jolie accepting a life peerage. To qualify for a place in Britain’s upper chamber, individuals merely must be “resident in UK for tax purposes and accept the requirement to remain so”.
— Louise Mensch (@LouiseMensch) September 26, 2016
Two years ago Arminka Helic, a former Special Advisor to William Hague, was given a life peerage in the House of Lords. On the great day, Angelina was there watching with keen interest as Baroness Helic took her seat. Helic grew up as a punk rocker in Bosnia and escaped the fighting in the 1990s. If she can sit in the House of Lords, why not her chum Angelina?
The procedures might be considered dauntingly archaic to an American – but don’t some newly ennobled British life peers often have the same feelings before swiftly learning how to fit in?
Furthermore, Baroness Jolie could sit on the Crossbenches – in effect as an independent peer, not affiliated to any party – and thus rise above partisan division. There she would be alongside Lord Guthrie, the former Chief of the Defence Staff; Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury; and Lord Sacks, the former Chief Rabbi. Snug as a bug in a rug.
A guide to coping with Brangelina's breakup: https://t.co/OP6ho78Vyf
— MTV News (@MTVNews) September 25, 2016
There is one possible hitch. For the next couple of years new peerages are likely to be rather strictly rationed. Boundary changes are being brought in to reduce the size of the House of Commons from 650 to 600. There are already about 800 members of the House of Lords and there is a feeling that it should be slimmed down rather than further expanded.
On the other hand, some discreet lobbying from Lord Hague would surely have an impact. He might argue that Jolie would be able to add something to debates on foreign policy by offering first-hand experience of having visited conflict zones and met some of the key players.
While she’s at it, perhaps she might also find a new husband – and one rather more suitable than Mr Pitt. There would be plenty of eligible noble Lords for her to choose from – with an abundance of charm, courtesy and a shared interest in world affairs. Plus, there are still 92 hereditary peers in the Lords if she’s looking for that extra bit of social cachet and romance. Some Americans love that sort of thing.
With all of that said, I fear the men in tights – the clerks who run the place – may still seek to thwart the idea of Miss Jolie’s elevation to the peerage. The odds must be stacked against. But we can still dream. Arise, Lady Jolie!