Who are the Green Party leaders hoping to win a record number of MPs?

Co-leaders of the Green Party Carla Denyer and Adrian Ramsay are hoping to pick up more seats and keep environmental issues in voters' minds.

Carla Denyer and Adrian Ramsay outside the St Pancras Meeting Rooms in London after being elected as the co-leaders of the Green Party. Picture date: Friday October 1, 2021.
Carla Denyer and Adrian Ramsay are hoping to challenge the Tories in rural areas. (Alamy)

The Green Party has so far only ever managed to elect one MP to parliament, but it is a growing force in British local democracy and could win a record number of seats this election.

With the left of Labour splintered over issues such as the war in Gaza and the treatment of long-standing MP Diane Abbott, the party is hoping to play a more significant role in this summer's general election.

Co-leader Carla Denyer is standing against Labour candidate Thangam Debbonaire in Bristol Central, while her fellow party leader Adrian Ramsey is hoping to win Waveney Valley off the Tories.

With the Greens also tipped as possible winners in North Herefordshire and Brighton, where Caroline Lucas was the party's only MP, Hannah Fearn finds out more about the party's co-leaders.

Born in 1985, Carla Denyer studied mechanical engineering at Durham University, graduating in 2009. While at university she became a environmental activist, and served as the environment representative for her university college, St Chad’s.

After leaving university she worked in renewable energy for the consultancy GL Garrad Hassan, focusing on policies around wind power. Denyer joined the Green Party in 2011, initially campaigning on issues including fossil fuel divestment. She has been named as one of the most influential LGBT+ people in Bristol, where she became a councillor.

Adrian Ramsay was born in Norwich in 1981 and was brought up in the area. He gained a first class degree in politics at the University of East Anglia and went on to study for a master’s.

After graduating, he entered local and then national politics, and has previously served as deputy leader of the party, but between 2014 to 2019 he was chief executive of the Centre for Alternative Technology. Since 2019, he has been chief executive of the MCS Charitable Foundation.

Denyer was elected as a councillor in 2015, first for the ward of Bristol Clifton East and then for Clifton Down. She was considered to have helped prompt the rapid rise in popularity of her party within Bristol, and was re-elected in 2021, increasing her majority.

In 2018 she led Bristol’s declaration of a climate emergency, and pushed for a commitment for the city to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030.

Denyer was made the party’s national spokesperson on housing and communities in 2021 and later that year she took on the co-leadership of the party with her colleague Ramsay. She is now standing against former Labour shadow cabinet member Debbonaire in Bristol Central.

Green Party co-leaders Carla Denyer and Adrian Ramsay during the launch of their local election campaign in Bristol. Picture date: Thursday April 4, 2024.
Green Party co-leaders Carla Denyer and Adrian Ramsay during the launch of their local election campaign in Bristol. (Alamy)

Ramsay has been involved in the Green Party for longer, holding senior posts including deputy leader – the party’s first – under Caroline Lucas.

He was one of the youngest councillors in Britain, elected for the Greens in Norwich in 2003 at the age of just 21. He was also an active voice in the campaign against rises in university tuition fees during that decade.

Ramsay has stood twice to be an MP but has yet to be successful. He was elected co-leader with Denyer on a promise to achieve a second seat in parliament for the party.

Denyer has consistently attacked the Conservative party for failing to invest in the health service, saying this has directly led to the loss of bed space and a crisis in social care.

“The Tories are allowing the NHS to disintegrate before our eyes,” she said in 2023, adding, “our hospitals are in meltdown”.

Her party supported nurses and doctors in their pay disputes against the government and Denyer joined healthcare workers on picket lines in Bristol during recent strikes.

She said if her party was elected to government they would increase spending on the NHS by £8bn, including adding £1.4bn to public health budgets. This would be funded through tax reform, with changes to capital gains tax, “non dom” status and national insurance.

The Green Party has criticised the government for its aggressive stance on immigration, particularly over its policy to deport illegal migrants to Rwanda.

But Ramsay has also spoken about how immigration should be seen as a much bigger issue than the arrival of small boats. A priority for him is to restore freedom of movement for EU citizens between Britain and other EU states – particularly as the NHS, care sectors and other industries face labour shortages following Brexit.

He welcomed recent reports that public attitudes towards immigration were starting to soften despite the hard line stance of the Conservative government.

“More and more people are coming to understand the value of immigration to our cultural and economic life,” he said. “The Green Party is the only party that would renegotiate freedom of movement with the EU.”

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The leaders

Denyer describes herself as suffering “climate anxiety”, saying “I do feel quite depressed about the slow progress in the UK and nationally”.

She says that net zero can be achieved with the technology we currently have at our disposal, but that political action is the only way to meet that target.

“I’m not an optimist in that I’ll just sit back and let the free market and technology fix it. That’s not going to happen,” she said. “It’s people and policies and the way our economy works.”

She is calling on those worried about climate change to vote to elect more Green representatives into Westminster to prevent politicians “cosying up to the fossil fuel lobby” and walking away from former climate targets.

Together with his co-leader, Ramsay has called for a ceasefire and release of all hostages in Gaza, and lobbied for more humanitarian aid to be allowed to enter the region.

The party leaders have together written to members of the cabinet, including the foreign secretary, to raise awareness of the plight of Palestinians inside Gaza and have publicly opposed the conflict.

However the party has since been forced to launch an internal investigation after Green councillor Mothin Ali stated that his win in May’s local elections was “a win for the people of Gaza”.

Denyer has said the cost of living crisis is actually a wage crisis, with the minimum wage being set too low and public sector wages remaining repressed.

The party has pledged to keep public sector wages in line with inflation and restore wages losses from the austerity years.

Denyer has also pledged to double the £20 universal credit boost awarded during the pandemic to £40 and keep it in place.

The Green manifesto includes plans to increase wealth taxes to support those on the lowest incomes.

Criticising the government’s handling of the cost of living crisis, Denyer has regularly claimed that oil and gas companies are thriving while ordinary people are unable to meet their basic energy bills.