Kayleigh McEnany, the recently appointed White House press secretary and former CNN commentator spent a year at Oxford under the supervision of a prominent Labour MP.

The Times reported this week that McEnany was tutored in politics by Nick Thomas-Symonds, newly appointed as Shadow Home Secretary by fellow Teddy Hall alumnus Keir Starmer. However, Thomas-Symonds’ own politics appear to have had little effect on the beliefs of his student.

McEnany spent a year at St Edmund’s Hall on her year abroad from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in Washington D.C, making Oxford one of the four institutions where she has studied, as well as the University of Miami and Harvard Law School.

Whilst still a student, McEnany had a string of remarkable internships including one with President George W. Bush. She launched her media career shortly after graduating, working as a producer on the show of the father of her White House predecessor, Mike Huckabee, before appearing as a token panellist in support of Trump for CNN while still at law school.

The early career of Thomas-Symonds appears to have been similarly illustrious, as at just 21 he was appointed a college tutor in Politics at Teddy Hall after reading PPE at the college. He went on to write biographies of Clement Atlee and Nye Bevan, two icons of the left who, as Prime Minister and Health Secretary respectively, introduced the NHS to Britain. Like McEnany, the Labour frontbencher is a qualified lawyer, having been called to the Bar in 2004 whilst still teaching at Oxford. 

In his time as MP for Torfaen, Thomas-Symonds has spoken out against US steel tariffs and, notably, backed an Early Day Motion seeking to cancel Donald Trump’s state visit to the UK. 

McEnany has shown uncompromising support for the president since before his election. She contributed to the “birther movement” against Barack Obama and staunchly defended Trump’s infamous “when you’re a star, they let you do it” comments.

It appears that McEnany enjoyed her time in Oxford. The Times quotes a 2014 interview in which she states that she has “loved every moment of academia, particularly Oxford.” Her only complaint was, according to a tweet, the lack of Taco Bells the city has to offer.

Image Credit to Gage Skidmore/ Wikimedia Commons


For Cherwell, maintaining editorial independence is vital. We are run entirely by and for students. To ensure independence, we receive no funding from the University and are reliant on obtaining other income, such as advertisements. Due to the current global situation, such sources are being limited significantly and we anticipate a tough time ahead – for us and fellow student journalists across the country.

So, if you can, please consider donating. We really appreciate any support you’re able to provide; it’ll all go towards helping with our running costs. Even if you can't support us monetarily, please consider sharing articles with friends, families, colleagues - it all helps!

Thank you!