Sunday 24 September 2017

First Sikh woman and turban-wearing Sikh man elected to Parliament

Preet Kaur Gill and Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi were elected for the Labour Party in Birmingham Edgbaston and Slough.

By Peter Cary

The first female Sikh MP and first turban-wearing Sikh man have been elected to Parliament.

Preet Kaur Gill and Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi were elected to sitting Labour constituencies, in Birmingham Edgbaston and Slough respectively, after the seats’ former MPs stepped down upon the announcement of the General Election in April.

Gill, who was serving as a councillor for the nearby Birmingham district of Sandwell, won 24,124 votes at last night’s election – 6,917 above her nearest Conservative rival, Caroline Squire.

The result means Gill extended Labour’s majority by a further 4,211 votes, 10.5% up on the previous lead of 2,706 held by Gisela Stuart in 2015.

In her acceptance speech in Edgbaston, Gill paid tribute to her father, an immigrant bus driver from India who became a close friend of the first UK Sikh peer, Lord King.

She said: “My father came to this country from India with great aspiration for us all, and tonight this is the beginning of a journey he would have been proud of had he been here.

“The British electorate have made important decisions and it’s now my job to go to Westminster as part of a Labour team for the many, not the few.”

Dhesi, who was elected as the new MP for Slough, is the former mayor of Gravesham in Kent, where he currently lives with his family.

His election to the Berkshire town of his birth marks the first time a turban-wearing Sikh has been elected to the Commons.

Dhesi was able to produce a substantial majority of 16,998 over the nearest Conservative rival, Mark Vivis, marking a 14.4% increase on the previous margin of 7,336 held by Fiona Mactaggart in 2015.

Hailing the result on Twitter on Friday, Dhesi said he was “humbled and honoured” to be elected as the Labour MP for Slough, and thanked voters for bestowing their trust in him.

In total, Labour gained 29 seats in Thursday’s election, while Theresa May’s Conservatives lost 12 despite hopes they would win a comfortable majority.

A count for the London constituency of Kensington will be the final seat to be declared following a third recount on Friday evening, after a second count was still judged too close to call between Labour and the Conservatives.

Press Association

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