A former barrister, she was a lecturer at King’s College London when the London Conservatives chose her to top the list of their candidates for the European Election in 1999.
Representing the capital for six years as a Eurosceptic MEP, she was Deputy Leader of the Conservatives in the European Parliament from 2001 to 2002.
Throughout her time in the European Parliament she was an opponent of Britain’s entry into the Euro and expansion of the powers of the EU.
In December 2005, after seven months in parliament, David Cameron appointed Villers to his Shadow Cabinet as shadow chief secretary to the Treasury. At David Cameron’s first reshuffle in July 2007, she was appointed shadow secretary of state for transport.
When the Coalition took office on May 2010, she was appointed to the Privy Council and became Minister of State for Transport.
She was appointed to the Cabinet as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland in September 2012, a role she held until July 2016.
She was re-elected in the 2017 General Election.
Villiers has said the UK should be ready to leave the EU with no deal and make trade agreements using World Trade Organization terms.
Speaking in the Commons on 25 July, Villiers, alongside ministerial team Therese Coffey, Robert Goodwill and David Rutley said Government priority is "preventing plastic waste in the first instance. The Resources and Waste Strategy sets out our plans to eliminate avoidable plastic waste including certain single use items.
"This week we published government responses to consultations on measures which include making recycling easier and ensuring producers pay the full cost of recycling their packaging responsibly. There is a real public attitude out there that they want to be part of solving this urgent problem.
"The government will continue to support organisations like the National Citizens Service in engaging young people in ensuring they are playing a part in the determination that the government has in resolving this problem because of the concern felt about it."
She added on the 2023 start date for its proposed Deposit Return Scheme for drinks packaging: "We have gone further than any other government on tackling plastic waste. I very much acknowledge the concern about the matter he has raised.
"We will always try and move as fast as possible to make sure we are taking the most effect action, but we also need to take time to make sure we get it right. But I assure him that I will work to ensure this action is delivered as soon as possible."
Environmental Audit Committee chair Mary Creagh welcomed Villiers' appointment: "I want to pay tribute to Michael Gove for his work as Environment Secretary over the past two years.
"I welcome Theresa Villiers in her appointment to the role. She joins at a particularly challenging time for the environment with the threat of a no-deal Brexit looming over our environmental protections. She will need to ensure that investment in the environment is a priority for the Budget and next year’s spending review.
"I’m calling on Theresa to ensure that the proposed watchdog, the Office for Environmental Protection, is given powers to hold government to account should we leave the EU; to bring forward the introduction of the deposit return scheme as soon as possible; and promote a circular economy for fashion to prevent hundreds of thousands of tonnes of clothing ending up in landfill each year."
Country Landowner Association president Tim Breitmeyer said: "We welcome Mrs Villiers to her new role as Secretary of State at Defra. We look forward to working together to ensure a healthy farming sector can help to meet the environmental challenges we collectively face, while delivering a prosperous rural economy.
"We’ve noted Mrs Villiers’ recent comments on a no deal Brexit and resulting WTO tariffs, but we know there are many farmers across the country with grave concerns. Currently 60% of our food exports go to the EU. Were draconian tariffs put in place, world class British produce would become uncompetitive in our largest market overnight.
"Having said that, there are also tremendous opportunities. We are global leaders in producing quality food to high environmental and welfare standards. As landowners we are key to meeting ambitions on climate change and the environment. The rural economy has extraordinary potential ready to be unleashed. But only an ambitious, creative and robust policy platform will support all of this."
"She replaces Mr Gove who we wish well in his new role working across Government. We hope that he continues to champion the needs of our sector in his new brief."
#Lord Taylor of Holbeach has stepped down as chief whip in the Lords. Lord Taylor is a director of Taylors Bulbs of Spalding.