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Labour candidate narrowly misses out on becoming first trans MP

Nick Duffy June 9, 2017
Sophie Cook trans football

Sophie Cook

The UK did not elect its first transgender Member of Parliament last night – but it made some huge steps towards doing so.

To date no openly trans person has ever been elected to the House of Commons, despite dozens of out gay, lesbian and bisexual MPs in the chamber.

A record 45 LGB MPs were elected on June 8 from across Labour, the Conservatives and the Scottish National Party.

However, despite seven transgender candidates putting themselves forward, none managed to top the ballot.

Labour’s Sophie Cook was the closest to victory, after a surprise surge in the Tory heartland of East Worthing and Shoreham .

Ms Cook won 20,882 votes, cutting the majority of anti-LGBT Conservative Tim Loughton in half, to just 5106 votes.

She managed to get the best result for Labour in the reliably-Tory seat since it was established in 1997, with a 19.8% swing to Labour.

The 50-year-old equality campaigner, who has three children, began transitioning in 1998 and came out in 2015.

Addressing the result, she said: “Five weeks ago no one gave Labour a chance in Theresa May’s snap election… no one gave Labour a chance nationally and certainly no one gave Labour a chance in the safe Tory seat of East Worthing & Shoreham.

“An idea that was probably reinforced by the selection of a little known transgender TV presenter as the Labour candidate.

“There were those that believed we had no hope, both outside and inside the party.

“Five weeks later and that picture looks very different. Through the amazing, hard work of a team of committed activists with little or no resources we achieved a 19.8 swing towards Labour, picking up votes from all of the parties and increasing the Labour vote by over 11,000 from 9,737 to 20,882.

“We fought a campaign based on belief, integrity, honesty and policies, and we reached out to more of our constituency than any party had ever done.

“Yesterday the country voted for change, nationally and here in East Worthing & Shoreham. They voted for a more caring society, for the many, not the few. We still have a way to go to achieve that change here, in our constituency, but we will continue fighting towards that aim.

“I gave up a career in television to become the candidate here, I have no job to go back to, but I don’t regret that one bit. Life is a journey, not a destination, and whilst I may not have a job at the moment I think that I’ve found a new career.

“If the Party wants me I will work to remain in politics and hope that someday in the near future that I get the opportunity again.

“Thank you so much to everyone that worked with me, supported me and, of course, voted for me. I may not have achieved that change yet but I will not fail you.”

Lib Dem Helen Belcher was the next-best performing trans candidate, coming a valiant second in Chippenham.

Ms Belcher got 14,637 votes, but Tory candidate Michelle Donelan took 31,267.

More: General Election 2017, Labour, LGBT, MPs, parliament, sophie cook, Trans, Transgender

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