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Friday, July 12, 2024

UK Election Results: Historic Number of Indian-Origin MPs in Parliament

A record number of around 26 Indian-origin members of Parliament have been elected to the House of Commons in the UK’s general election as results were announced on Friday, with several Conservatives surviving an overall brutal outcome for their party.

Outgoing prime minister Rishi Sunak leads the Tory charge of British Indians holding on to their seats, with a decisive win in his Richmond and Northallerton constituency in Yorkshire. It would have come as small consolation for the Tory leader, who saw his party haemorrhage over 200 seats as the Labour Party’s landslide victory unfolded.

“On this difficult night, I would like to express my gratitude to the people of the Richmond and Northallerton constituency for your continued support. Since I moved here a decade ago, you have made me and my family feel so at home and I look forward to serving you for years to come,” said Sunak, in a message clearly aimed at dismissing pre-election chatter around his future plans as a politician.

Other prominent British Indian Tories holding on to their seats included former home secretaries, Suella Braverman and Priti Patel, as did Sunak’s Goan-origin Cabinet ally Claire Coutinho. Gagan Mohindra held on to his South West Hertfordshire seat for the Conservatives, with Shivani Raja registering a gain for the party in the keenly watched constituency of Leicester East where she was contesting against fellow Indian-origin Labour candidate Rajesh Agrawal. They had both canvassed around the topic of saving the city’s famous Diwali lights from being switched off over council budget cuts, as did former MP Keith Vaz who was contesting as an Independent this time.

Among the big losses on the Tory side included Shailesh Vara, who narrowly lost his North West Cambridgeshire seat to Labour, and first-timer Ameet Jogia, who also lost the Tory-held Hendon seat in London to Labour.

Reflective of the overall election results tally, it was the Labour Party that saw the maximum number of winning Indian diaspora candidates, starting with party veterans such as Seema Malhotra – who held on to her Feltham and Heston constituency with a comfortable margin. Goan-origin Valerie Vaz, sister of Keith Vaz, won in Walsall and Bloxwich, as did Lisa Nandy with a big margin in Wigan.

British Sikh MPs Preet Kaur Gill, who defeated Tory first-timer Ashvir Sangha, and Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi both won back their seats for Labour in Birmingham Edgbaston and Slough respectively. Navendu Mishra (Stockport) and Nadia Whittome (Nottingham East) were among the other Labour MPs re-elected with convincing majorities.

It was among the newcomers that British Indians made a big mark for the Labour Party, with Jas Athwal (Ilford South), Baggy Shanker (Derby South), Satvir Kaur (Southampton Test), Harpreet Uppal (Huddersfield), Warinder Juss (Wolverhampton West), Gurinder Josan (Smethwick), Kanishka Narayan (Vale of Glamorgan), Sonia Kumar (Dudley), Sureena Brackenbridge (Wolverhampton North East), Kirith Entwistle (Bolton North East), Jeevun Sandher (Loughborough) and Sojan Joseph (Ashford) among those set to take their seats in Parliament next week.

For the Liberal Democrats, who had a good election all round gaining over 60 seats, Munira Wilson won back her Twickenham constituency.

One of the seats on the Labour watch list was Islington North, where suspended former party leader Jeremy Corbyn contested as an Independent to defeat his British Indian Labour challenger Praful Nargund.

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