Owen was born in Whitchurch, Shropshire. He read History at Cambridge University, before joining his family leather business, becoming Managing Director in 1994. He speaks French and German. In twenty years in business he travelled all over the world, becoming President of COTANCE, the European Tanners’ Confederation.
It was this experience which drives his political beliefs. Owen is a passionate supporter of localism, free enterprise and less interference in people’s lives. He believes that taxation and bureaucracy should be minimised to give people the best chance to exercise their talents. He is a strong defender of the United Kingdom.
During the past 18 years, he has fought on behalf of his constituents for better health provision, local Primary Schools, improved transport services, Post Offices, local Magistrates Courts and against regional police forces.
As Agriculture spokesman he became an expert on bovine TB and campaigned for the dairy industry. He travelled all over the North Atlantic to produce a landmark Green Paper on Fisheries. As Shadow Minister for Roads, he researched best practice and the latest ideas from Europe and North America.
In July 2007 he was appointed Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and he tried to visit Northern Ireland every week, spending days with MPs and MLAs from every party. He has visited schools, businesses and community projects; and he has immersed himself in Irish history and the local economy.
In May 2010 Owen was appointed Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and was made a Privy Counsellor. During the September 2012 reshuffle, he became the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
In July 2014 Owen returned to the backbenches. Later that year he founded the think tank UK 2020 in order to research and publish optimistic, outward-looking, electorally viable conservative policies as a vital contribution to the Conservative Party. Recent subjects have included global food security and Britain’s position in Europe.
- MP for North Shropshire, May 1997 – 2015
- Conservative Whip, 1999-2001
- PPS to the Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith, Sept 2001 – Oct 2003
- Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Oct 2005 – Nov 2006
- Shadow Minister of State for Transport, Nov 2006- July 2007
- Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, July 2007 - May 2010
- Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, May 2010 - Sep 2012
- Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Sep 2012 – July 2014
Proudest political achievement
Helping to keep Whitchurch Community Hospital open
Interests outside politics
- Horses, racing and eventing
He has been married to Rose for 28 years and they have three children, Felix, Ned and Evie.