Conservative Andy Street becomes UK’s first directly-elected gay metro mayor
Gay Conservative Andy Street has been elected metro mayor of the West Midlands.
He becomes the first openly gay metro mayor in Britain.
The former managing director of John Lewis had been tipped to pull off a victory in the region, where Labour is usually strongest.
Street polled 238,628, compared with Sion Simon, the Labour candidate, who polled 234,862.
He had finished the first round with 216,280 votes – just shy of 6,000 votes ahead of Mr Simon (210,259) – with second preferences proving crucial.
The four other candidates – Lib Dem Beverley Nielsen (30,378), Green James Burn (24,260), UKIP’s Peter Durnell (29,051) and Communist Graham Stevenson (5,696) – were eliminated and the second preferences of people who voted for one of these four led to the overall result.
He formally came out as gay in a Times interview back in January.
Street says he did not realise he was gay until he was about 30, in 1993, when he was well into his career at John Lewis.
“The critical thing is I decided I was never going to lie about anything,” he told the paper.
“And equally I didn’t feel a need — maybe because of the environment back then — to go around giving public statements.
“So it became known and accepted without the need for a public statement. I just probably assumed that would be the least controversial way.”
Local elections were taking place across England, Wales and Scotland, with openly gay candidates competing in metro mayor elections in Manchester, West Midlands and West of England.
A total of 4,851 council seats are also up for grabs in 88 councils – all 32 in Scotland, 22 in Wales and 34 county councils and unitary authorities in England.
Conservatives and Liberal Democrats fielded out gay candidates for the major new position of metro mayor.
Elsewhere, Labour’s Andy Burnham was crowned mayor of Greater Manchester, the biggest of the new city regions up for election today.
Conservative candidate Sean Anstee, an active member of the LGBT+ Conservatives, came second with 128,752 votes, to Burnham’s 359,352 votes.
Stephen Williams, the gay former Liberal Democrat MP for Bristol West, came second in the first round of voting for the West of England’s metro mayor elections, winning 20,675 votes.
— Stephen Williams ? (@StephenRW01) May 5, 2017
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The election has already courted considerable controversy on LGBT issues, with Lib Dem leader Tim Farron being asked repeatedly whether he believes gay sex is a sin.