PHARMACIST Taiwo Owatemi has become the youngest ever member of the British Parliament of Nigerian extraction to be elected into office after he scrapped home to win the Coventry North West seat in a close contest.
Ms Owatemi, just 27, polled 20,918 votes, just 208 votes more than her nearest rival Clare Golby of the Conservative Party, who got 20,710 votes. In fact the contest was so right that it went to two recounts before the Conservative Party finally conceded defeat and the returning officer declared Ms Owatemi the winner.
Also standing in the seat held by Geoffrey Robinson for 45 years were Greg Judge for the Liberal Democrats, who got 2,717 votes, Joshua Richardson for the Brexit Party with 1,956 votes and Stephen Gray, the Green Party candidate, who got 1,443 votes. In what used to be a Labour safe seat, the party’s majority collapsed from 8,580 to just 208, as support for the Labour Party disappeared in an election dominated by Brexit.
Ms Owatemi said: “I believe we won because of our activists and those conversations about everyday life we had on the doorstep, in which people found the Labour Party is committed to supporting their everyday needs. I currently live in Foleshill and I am looking for a house in the constituency where I will be able to move in the next month.
“Today’s result means there is going be division within our communities, Parliament needs radical change and the struggle is going to be hard. I want to work with local colleges and universities and set up a apprenticeship in my office to give someone local, who wouldn’t have political opportunities the place to see what it is like to be in parliament.”
In her victory speech Ms Owatemi acknowledged that Brexit had been a big voter issue in Coventry and beyond. She won despite a healthy turnout of 64% in which many Labour voters voted Tory for the first time.