Profile: Baroness Cathy Ashton
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Britain’s Baroness Cathy Ashton has been appointed as Europe's first High Commissioner for Foreign Affairs. Known for quietly "getting on with the job", Ashton has been EU trade commissioner for the past year.
Born in Lancashire in the north west of England, Baroness Ashton, who studied economics at the University of London, started her political activity in the 1970s with the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), of which she subsequently became vice-chair.
During the 1980s and 90s she worked to tackle inequality in business, chaired a county health authority and became head of the National Council for One Parent Families.
Baroness Ashton, who is married to pollster Peter Kellner with whom she has two children and three step children, was made a life peer of the House of Lords in 1999 by then Prime Minister Tony Blair.
While sitting in the House of Lords, she rose through the ministerial ranks, starting off in the Department of Education and then going on to the Ministry for Constitutional Affairs.
In her current position as EU Trade Commissioner (fellow British peer Lord Mandelson held this position before he returned to front-line British politics as the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills) she has led negotiations with China and other major economies and is a standard bearer for free trade.
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