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HomeEntertainmentLabour MP Diane Abbott is the ‘Mother of the House’ in parliament....

Labour MP Diane Abbott is the ‘Mother of the House’ in parliament. Here’s what that actually means

Lucy Morgan

Diane Abbott is officially ‘Mother of the House’ – and no, that’s not slang.

The ‘Mother of the House’ is the title given to the longest continuously serving female MP in the UK parliament. Diane Abbott has served as the Labour MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington since 1987 – when she was elected as the first Black woman MP – and was recognised earlier in the week for this achievement.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle, re-elected as speaker of the House of Commons, paid tribute to Diane, saying: “You’ve served for 37 years and broken many glass ceilings along the way.”

Prime Minister Keir Starmer echoed this sentiment in his first address to parliament, praising Diane for doing “so much in her career over so many years to fight for a parliament that truly represents modern Britain”.

In her speech, Diane celebrated the record number of female MPs elected, noting, “When I was a new member in 1987, there were only 40 female members of Parliament. Today we have 264, and some of us are glad that we have lived to see this.”

Diane further praised former Labour MP Harriet Harman, the former Mother of the House, who had served for over 40 years, for doing “so much to work to have an equal and diverse House.”

Former Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also praised Diane, using his first parliamentary speech as Leader of the Opposition to say, “We have our differences on policy, but no one can deny the Right Honourable Lady’s important role in this House and the inspiration for so many young women of colour that she has provided.”

There had been confusion over whether Diane would return as a Labour MP. She was suspended from the Labour Party in April 2023 for sending a letter to The Observer in which she said that Jewish, Irish and people from the Traveller community experience prejudice but not racism.

She apologised and withdrew her comments. After undergoing antisemitism awareness training, Diane had the whip restored, meaning she could remain a Labour MP rather than having to stand as an independent candidate.

Sir Keir Starmer later confirmed that she was free to stand as a Labour candidate in the 2024 general election, adding that “she has carved a path for other people to come into politics and public life.”

At the general election, Diane Abbott held her seat in Hackney North with a total of 24,355 votes.

For more from Glamour UK’s Lucy Morgan, follow her on Instagram @lucyalexxandra.

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