Christina Annesley, who was a political activist and Leeds graduate, has died aged 23 in Thailand. She had been travelling on the island of Koh Tao as part of a four-month trip before planning to start a Masters in September.
Christina was born in New Zealand and grew up in Orpington in Kent, where she attended Darrick Wood Secondary School. She graduated from the University in 2013 with a 2:1 in History, and worked for financial news firm Dow Jones when she died.
During her time at Leeds, Christina, or ‘Chrissie’ to friends, was an active libertarian campaigner. She founded the Leeds branch of Liberty League in 2011 to ‘promote values of freedom and individual liberty’ on campus, serving as chairman for several months.
She also stood as Councillor for Headingley whilst still a student, coming fourth in the local elections in May 2011.
Christina was elected chair of Leeds Conservative Future in the same month.
In 2012, Christina defected to UKIP, arguing ‘there is no place for a libertarian in the Conservative party any more’, becoming vice-chairman of the party’s youth wing, Yorkshire Young Independence.
She left UKIP after her boyfriend chairman Olly Neville was sacked for his support of gay marriage, which the party opposed.
Friends have paid tribute to Christina’s ‘riotous sense of humour and her infectious mischief’.
Political blogger Guido Fawkes told The Gryphon, ‘Christina was a regular on the young right-wing scene in Westminster, often found in the Red Lion pub, Players’ bar or hosting boozy parties on boats on the Thames. A young Tory at Leeds, she caused a stir when she quit the party to join UKIP, before her ever-principled stance saw her leave her new party to become a libertarian martyr. Chrissie was vocal online and was well known for her good-humoured, freedom-loving presence on Twitter. My thoughts are with her family and many, many friends’.
Dr Robert Hornsby, who tutored Christina’s third-year specialist subject on the Russian Revolution, described her as ‘a talented, committed and passionate student who was liked and respected by her course mates and was always a pleasure to talk with’. She had been in touch with him a week before she died to ask for a reference for her Masters application. The School of History told this newspaper that it ‘mourns one of its best and brightest’.
In tribute to her daughter, Christina’s mother Margaret said, ‘From a young age, she was one of the most intelligent girls I’ve known. She had straight A’s in school and loved to party. She was so kind, so witty with a dry sense of humour’.
Camden Conservative deputy chairman Oliver Cooper tweeted, ‘Devastated by the sudden and untimely death of friend and freedom-fighter Christina Annesley. I didn’t know anyone that didn’t adore her. RIP’.
An aspiring journalist, Christina was writing a fantasy novel in her spare time. She was a prolific tweeter, and her friends talk of her love of reading, travel and gin.
A passionate libertarian, Christina’s political activism touched many people who will remember her remarkable achievements during her extraordinary, short life.
Image courtesy of The Times