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Tuesday, 27 June, 2000, 16:01 GMT 17:01 UK
Youngest MP takes Commons seat
David Lammy MP
David Lammy - the youngest MP on the green benches
David Lammy became the youngest MP on the Commons benches when he took his seat on Tuesday afternoon.

Labour MPs cheered as Mr Lammy made his first appearance in the chamber at 1600 BST and took the Commons oath.

The 27-year-old black barrister, who retained the seat of Tottenham for Labour last week in a by-election caused by the death of Bernie Grant, is now the baby of the Commons.

He is just three weeks younger than Christopher Leslie, his party colleague from Shipley, West Yorkshire.

The heartlands of Tottenham are safe in the hands of new Labour

David Lammy MP

It is not the first youthful record Mr Lammy has broken - in 1996 he became the first black Briton to attend Harvard college in the US, from where he graduated with a masters in law.

Entering the Palace of Westminster on Tuesday afternoon, Mr Lammy was welcomed by Home Office ministers Paul Boateng and Barbara Roche, and a group of Labour MPs.

"I come to the House of Commons with the support of the people of Tottenham and I am keen to get down to business on their behalf," he said.

Although born and bred in Tottenham, Mr Lammy is a very different kind of politician to his predecessor, the fiery and often controversial Guyanan-born Bernie Grant.

A favourite of the party hierarchy, he is self-avowedly "New Labour" and is unlikely to cause party whips much trouble.

Tottenham roots

During his selection and by-election campaigns Mr Lammy sold himself as a "local boy made good", emphasising the difficulties he faced growing up in Tottenham as one of four children raised by a lone mother amid the race riots of the 1980s.

"I know exactly what it's like to grow up disadvantaged in this community," he has said.

Insisting that "the heartlands of Tottenham are safe in the hands of new Labour," he has pledged to work towards improving his constituency's employment, schools and housing.
David Lammy with Cherie Blair
Dubbed a "black Tony Blair", Lammy is tipped as a future PM

He fought a troubled selection to be Labour's candidate for the safe seat against Bernie Grant's widow, Sharon Grant, who accused Mr Lammy of being too close to party managers.

As one of only a handful of black MPs, Mr Lammy has acknowledged that he will carry a "heavy burden" as a symbol for the black community.

A future Prime Minister?

Some say that Tony Blair is among those who tip him to be Britain's first black prime minister one day.

Mr Lammy took 53% of the vote in the Tottenham by-election on a turnout of just 25%, down 32% on the general election.

He suffered a 12% swing to the Lib Dems, who overtook the Tories to get second place.

The by-election was caused by the death of Bernie Grant after a heart attack. He was 56, and had represented Tottenham since 1987.

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See also:

23 Jun 00 | UK Politics
Labour holds Tottenham
23 Jun 00 | UK Politics
The great black hope
26 May 00 | UK Politics
Millbank-free battle to replace Grant
25 May 00 | UK Politics
Tottenham chooses candidate
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