Sayeeda Warsi

About Sayeeda

A lawyer, a businesswoman, and a Cabinet Minister, Sayeeda Warsi has had many roles, but she is best known for being Britain’s first Muslim Cabinet Minister.

One of five girls born to immigrant’s parents of Pakistani origin in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, Sayeeda studied law at Leeds University, going on to work for the Crown Prosecution Service before setting up her own legal practice, George Warsi Solicitors.

Her father, a former mill worker and bus driver, and her mother who set up their own business, instilled in her values of freedom, responsibility, and aspiration. Inspired, she got involved in the Conservative Party, and it was there that she became an advisor to the leader, Michael Howard, in 2004.

Sayeeda Warsi Giving Speech



In 2005, Sayeeda stood as a Parliamentary candidate in Dewsbury.

In 2007, she was elevated to the House of Lords aged 36, making her the youngest peer in Parliament. Later that year she travelled to Sudan and famously helped to secure the release of the British teacher Gillian Gibbons who was on trial for blasphemy.

A racial justice campaigner for many years, instrumental in the launch of Operation Black Vote and serving six years at the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, Sayeeda took on Nick Griffin on Question Time in 2009. It was the first time the British National Party leader appeared on a flagship BBC political show. Her performance singled her out as ‘sharp, articulate, unhysterical and warmly engaging’ (Observer).



In 2010, she was appointed by Prime Minister David Cameron as Minister without Portfolio, becoming the first Muslim to serve as a Cabinet Minister. The iconic images of her on the steps of No 10 Downing Street in a shalwar kameez (a traditional ethnic outfit) were beamed around-the-world.

She was also appointed as Chairman of the Conservative Party – the first Asian to chair a major British political party. In 2012, Sayeeda was made Senior Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Minister for Faith and Communities.

Sayeeda Speech
Sayeeda Warsi Giving Speech


In government, Sayeeda devoted herself to making a case for faith, declaring in a 2010 address to the Anglican Bishops’ Conference that governments should ‘do God’. In 2011 she provoked support and controversy when she famously declared that Islamophobia had ‘passed the dinner table test’. In 2012 she led the UK’s largest-ever ministerial delegation to the Vatican, gaining global coverage for a speech which called on Europe to strengthen its Christian identity.

Outspoken and challenging on the issues that many people seek to avoid, she has become an interesting and distinct voice on topics previously considered taboo. She led the government’s campaign to criminalise forced marriage and spoke out on the sexual grooming of children by gangs.



A fierce political campaigner, Sayeeda drove the campaign against adopting the Alternative Vote system ahead of the May 2011 referendum, winning what she called ‘the mother of all elections’ by a ratio of two to one.

She also spearheaded the party’s Social Action agenda both domestically and internationally, setting up Project Maja, which has brought politicians and volunteers together to deliver projects in the poorest parts of Bosnia, Herzegovina, Bangladesh, and Turkey.

Sayeeda Speech
Sayeeda Warsi Giving Speech


Her business background and passion for manufacturing have made her a champion for British business at home and abroad. Sayeeda has been a major driver of four start-up businesses, two in the service sector and two in manufacturing, all of which have developed into vibrant and successful SMEs.
In Government, she led the campaign to ensure that Britain became the first Western country to issue a Sukuk (Islamic bond), which was issued in 2014. She also Chaired the Global Islamic Finance & Investment Group.

In 2002 Sayeeda founded the Savayra Foundation. This UK-registered charity works in Pakistan to empower widows, divorcees and orphan girls through skills, education and other poverty relief programmes. It now operates a purpose built women’s centre in rural Punjab running programmes which have benefited over 30,000 individuals.



Sayeeda is passionate that education is the opportunity that makes anything possible. She is committed to widening access to Higher Education for all. Sayeeda is a Pro-Vice-Chancellor at the University of Bolton, an International Advisor to Australia Catholic University, a Visiting Professor at St Mary’s – the oldest Catholic university in the UK, an Advisor to Georgetown University, Washington D.C.

She has also been awarded Honorary Doctorates from Aston, Birmingham City, and Bolton universities, as well as from the University of Law.

Sayeeda Speech

What People Have To Say

  • David Cameron

    I think there is something of a Christian fight-back going on in Britain. You could see it in the reception of Sayeeda’s superb speeches about standing up for faith.

    David Cameron

  • The Daily Telegraph Logo

    She represents modern multicultural Britain in all its complexity, and she’s a Conservative. She is on her way to inventing a new type of politics for the looming age of authenticity.

    The Daily Telegraph

  • Total Politics

    The best speakers position themselves just outside, not inside, the political mainstream. Therein also lies the secret of Baroness Warsi’s success… She’s the closest they have to a modern-day Margaret Thatcher.

    Total Politics