Page last updated at 14:26 GMT, Thursday, 22 January 2009

Labour MP gets Barack's backing

Barack Obama and Dawn Butler
Dawn Butler met Barack Obama when he was in the UK in July

A Labour MP has stolen a march on rival politicians in the UK - by securing a personal endorsement from Barack Obama.

Dawn Butler has published a letter from the new US president on her website in which he describes her as "bright, intelligent and determined".

"I say to the people of Brent you should have the audacity of hope and when someone asks you can she do it, you respond yes we can," he adds.

Ms Butler said she was "incredibly proud" of the letter.

The Brent South MP, who is one of only two black women in the Commons, met the US president when he was in the UK in July last year.

She said: "For Obama to be impressed with me as one of only two black female politicians humbles me greatly.

"It was a pleasure to meet him and I look forward to meeting him again on his visit to the UK in April. I will treasure my photo with Obama and this quote forever."

She said the wording of the letter, which is signed by Mr Obama, was agreed between her aides and his office.

'Amazing moment'

"It was done quite quickly, in a rush, it is a bit cheesy I know, but at the end of the day that's also my bit of history, that I am incredibly proud of.

Barack Obama
Mr Obama signed the letter with a fountain pen

"For me, what Obama symbolises is somebody who has broken down barriers," she told BBC Radio 5 Live.

Ms Butler who is a junior member of the whips office, said she had been accused of faking the letter but she insisted it was genuine.

"I have been accused of getting him to sign a blank piece of paper or forging the signature and the picture of Barack and I that he is a cardboard cut-out.

"I am amazed that it has got this much attention. This is an amazing moment in time, an amazing time in history."

She added: "He signed it with his own fair hand. The signature is slightly smudged because he used a fountain pen and he is left-handed."

Ms Butler, who has been MP for Brent South since 2005, said she spoke Mr Obama for 10 minutes at a party in the House of Commons.

She said: "Meeting Obama was an inspirational moment. And I am so humbled that I can quote what he said about me 'that having met me he understands why I am only one of two black women in parliament. We should all be proud of Dawn.'

"Having met Barack Obama, I am lost to find the words, he has a huge task ahead, he will not be able to live up to everyone's expectations, but there is no doubting that just being the man he is has already exceeded many expectations."

Mr Obama was sworn in as America's 44th President on Tuesday.

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