New Labour MP Keir Mather joked that he had “heard far worse” when asked how he felt about becoming “the Baby of the House”.
The 25-year-old will become the youngest MP in the Commons after overturning a 20,000 majority in the North Yorkshire constituency of Selby and Ainsty.
Speaking after the results at Selby Leisure Centre, Mr Mather told reporters: “As a young person in politics, I really hope to be a representative for the power that young people have to make a difference.”
Asked about whether he could fully understand voters’ concerns at the age of 25, he said: “Well, I’m a taxpayer too, I feel the pressures like anyone else.”
Following the results Tory veterans minister Johnny Mercer mocked the 25-year-old by comparing him to one of teens in The Inbetweeners, and said he was an “identikit” MP who “parrots” Labour lines.
After winning by more than 4,000 votes, Mr Mather said his first priority would be setting up financial support centres in the constituency for people to get expert help with mortgage payments and energy bills.
He also told journalists that he supported Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer’s controversial policy of keeping the two-child benefit cap, a move which has sparked fury from some of his backbenchers.
“I think we’re going to inherit an absolute economic mess from the Conservatives when we take power and we’re going to have to make extremely difficult decisions once we do, and I support the Labour government in doing so,” said Mr Mather.
Mr Mather has most recently worked as a senior public affairs adviser for the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), and was formerly a parliamentary researcher for shadow health secretary Wes Streeting from 2019 to 2020.
He was born in Hull and grew up near Selby, before going to Oxford University, studying history and politics. His candidacy was supported by the GMB and Unison unions.
In a speech after he was declared the winner of the by-election, Mr Mather said he “understood the enormity of what has just happened”, adding: “We have rewritten the rules on where Labour can win.”
“The people of Selby & Ainsty have sent a clear message. For too long, Conservatives up here and in Westminster have failed us, and today that changes.”
Senior Tory MP Johnny Mercer tried to downplay the importance of Selby result by mocking the new 25-year-old Labour MP Keir Mather and comparing him to the teen sitcom The Inbetweeners.
“We mustn’t become a repeat of The Inbetweeners, right?” the veterans minister told Sky News. “This guy has been at Oxford University more than he’s been in a job. You put a chip in him and he just relates Labour lines. People have had enough of that, right?”
Labour peer Baroness Chapman fired back: “You’re being disrespectful to the voters of Selby.”
Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner said Mr Mercer’s comments showed the “contempt” that the Tories had for the people who voted for Mr Mather.
Tory chairman Greg Hands refused to back the Tory veterans minister’s comments. Asked if he thought the remarks were appropriate, he told LBC: “I welcome young people coming into politics. We’ve got young Conservative MPs ourselves, young MPs in their 20s.”
After Mr Mather’s speech, the defeated Conservative candidate Claire Holmes left the venue without talking to reporters. Mr Mather said the cost-of-living crisis was the number one issue on the doorstep throughout the campaign.
Asked if people were voting for Labour or against the Tories, Mr Mather said: “Well, I make no bones about it, I think local residents were extremely frustrated at the way the Conservative MP (Nigel Adams) stepped down.
He added: “But they only voted Labour to the extent that they did because they knew we had a plan that would actually deliver on their concerns.”
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