Preet Gill elected as first female Sikh MP

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Media caption,

General Election 2017: Preet Gill becomes first female Sikh MP

The first female Sikh MP has been elected to the Houses of Parliament.

Preet Gill secured 24,124 votes to hold the seat in Birmingham Edgbaston for Labour with a majority of 6,917.

The seat had previously been held by Gisela Stuart who stepped down when the election was called.

Ms Gill said after leaving the count at about 05:00 BST, she went to a temple to give a prayer of thanks for her success followed later on by the school run as "life just carries on".

Citing the fight against education cuts as one of her top priorities, said she had a good team of people and had a really "strong" campaign.

"Theresa May clearly thought she had an overwhelming majority, but I saw a different mood out there when campaigning," she said.

Ms Gill was followed by Conservative Caroline Squire with 17,207 votes.

Lib Dem Colin Green received 1,564 votes, Green candidate Alice Kiff received 562 and Common Good candidate Dick Rodgers secured 155 votes.

Filling the shoes of her predecessor Ms Stuart, whose strength as a local MP was borne out by her holding the seat since 1997, was something Ms Gill said she was well aware of.

"It's been 19 years since Gisela's iconic win and I want to build on the great work she did.

"Our Brexit opinions might not have been the same [Ms Stuart was chair of the victorious Vote Leave campaign] but she was an excellent constituent MP."

Image source, Twitter

She said her priorities as an MP were to now get to know people in the different areas and their different issues.

Bus driver father

Being the first female Sikh MP was also a "huge privilege" and she said she hoped she would become "one of many" who would now come forward and get involved.

"The fact there has never been one before, it's a big issue," she added.

Ms Preet's father came to Birmingham in the 1950s and worked in a factory, becoming the foreman and later a bus driver on the number 11 route in the city which he became known for, she said.

"He was president of the Smethwick gurdwara... and was involved in the community. He was very passionate and active and always said you should contribute and try to give something back.

"He died three years ago but he would have been immensely proud of me becoming an MP."

Overall, she said her win is still sinking in and she was looking forward to "such an amazing opportunity."

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General election 2017: Students react to Preet Gill's election

Sikh business leaders in the West Midlands have congratulated her on her win saying they had felt under represented in the governmental decision making processes.

Roger Wouhra, from East End Foods - founded by his family in the West Midlands in the 1970s - said her success meant Sikhs would have more of a voice in the House of Commons, especially after Conservative Paul Uppal lost his Wolverhampton seat in 2015.

"It's fantastic news to have a Sikh MP," he said.

"It's early days but she will be able to speak for Sikhs in the Commons in areas that need addressing."

Image source, Twitter

Black Country businessman and local enterprise board member Ninder Johal said it was a "breakthrough" for Sikhs.

"The Sikh community for generations has been a vital contributor to the economy and community, but for too long not represented in the decision making process in the Houses of Parliament.

"It's great that we have someone from the local area as a voice for Sikhs there."