Paulette Hamilton overcame personal tragedy to become the country’s newest MP by winning the Birmingham Erdington by-election for Labour.
The Labour candidate’s father died at the start of the campaign and she thanked party leader Sir Keir Starmer for his “endless support” during the emotional by-election contest.
The victory saw her increase Labour’s vote share and become the first black MP to represent a Birmingham constituency.
The contest was triggered by the death of Jack Dromey, who held the seat for Labour in 2019 with a majority of 3,601.
In her victory speech, Ms Hamilton thanked her Labour colleagues for their support “through four storms” during the campaign and her bereavement.
She said: “But I’d also like to say a special thank you to Keir Starmer for his endless support – even when my dad died, they were there, they wrapped me in cotton wool, and they supported me, and my dad isn’t even buried yet but they were there when I was crying.”
Ms Hamilton won with a majority of 3,266 but the by-election failed to inspire voters, with a turnout of just 27 per cent.
Increased vote share
She picked up 9,413 votes, ahead of Tory candidate and leader of the Conservative group on the city council Robert Alden with 6,147.
Labour increased its vote share from 50.3 per cent in 2019 to 55.5 per cent.
Speaking to reporters, Ms Hamilton said: “I never thought I’d be running to be an MP, but the fact that I am now not only the MP for Erdington but the first black woman – the first woman to ever get the position – I am delighted and I am still pinching myself.
“I really don’t believe it at this moment in time.”
Ms Hamilton added that although she was the first black MP for Birmingham “I won’t be the last” because “when people see that I did it, others will be able to step up to the plate”.
A Labour spokesman said: “In Paulette, the people of Birmingham Erdington have elected a great local champion. We’re delighted that this campaign has seen the first black MP elected from a Birmingham constituency.
“Increasing our vote share is a huge achievement and shows that with Keir Starmer’s leadership, Labour is regaining the trust of voters in our traditional ‘red wall’ seats in the Midlands after the disastrous results of the 2019 general election.
“Even in a traditionally low turnout seat with a well-known Tory candidate, we’ve seen a swing to Labour with voters backing Keir Starmer’s contract for the British people based on security, prosperity and respect for all.”