When the Hampstead and Kilburn MP Tulip Siddiq came upon she was pregnant along with her second little one, which should have been roughly 9 months and three weeks in the past, “I stated to Chris, my husband: ‘Thank God it’s [due at] the tip of January – which means I can vote.’” She is sitting in the lounge of her new residence in Kilburn, north-west London. It’s homely, as a result of there’s a child in it, however she and Chris have simply moved in, and their solely furnishings is the big plastic toy kitchen belonging to their two-year-old daughter, Azalea. Chris, she says “advised me off, stated that shouldn’t be the very first thing on my thoughts. However …” I’m anticipating her to say one thing a bit extra predictable, about how clearly the child comes first. Not a lot … “My constituency is 75% stay. I don’t know who the opposite 25% are as a result of I’ve by no means met them in my life. I’ve 22,000 EU nationals in my constituency; each single midwife and physician I had on the Royal Free hospital, the place I had this child, was European. I will be doing a downward canine in a pilates class, and somebody will ask me about their settled standing. It’s a very essential vote for me.”
Because the saying goes, if you wish to make God chuckle, inform him your plans. The vote on Theresa Could’s Brexit deal was to happen on Tuesday 15 January. Resulting from gestational diabetes, Siddiq was suggested to have a caesarean part at 37 weeks – on the identical day. Denied a proxy vote, she had two choices: she might have been “nodded by” – a bizarre course of by which two Labour whips and one Tory have a look at you, change glances with each other in mutual assurance that you’re alive and of sound thoughts, and then you definitely go residence – however she nonetheless would have needed to flip up at parliament. She might have “paired” with an MP from an reverse social gathering whose vote would have counteracted her personal, however she mentioned that in a cross-party new-mum-MP WhatsApp group. The Lib Dem MP Jo Swinson had her pairing betrayed by Conservative MP Brandon Lewis whereas she was on maternity depart in July. “Jo simply stated: ‘I actually wouldn’t belief them. You don’t perceive how I felt, breastfeeding my new child and seeing the pairing had been damaged.’” The one solution to assure her vote could be recorded was to be there in individual. So she delayed her surgical procedure.
Seeing Siddiq arrive in a wheelchair triggered public outrage – a reminder of how archaic our parliamentary system is that it wouldn’t permit a girl who had been scheduled to have a child a proxy vote. “Why,” Siddiq asks, “can we count on girls to alter to go well with arcane establishments? Why can’t establishments change?” The scene of her being wheeled into parliament by her husband, then taken into the foyer by Labour MP Clive Lewis (“He’s a military man, he was shooing everybody out of the best way”) introduced one thing human to the home – and never simply from her personal social gathering. Tory MPs David Davis and Nicholas Soames supplied solidarity – they expressed nice remorse at her predicament, and stated it wasn’t what they would need for their very own wives. Then got here the prime minister. “She was about to lose a very powerful vote of her life, and he or she came to visit and stated: ‘I’m actually sorry you’re on this place; I remorse we couldn’t give you proxy voting.’ As a lot as I believe she has made coverage that has ruined some girls’s lives, it was a really humane factor to do.”
The following day, she was granted a proxy vote, the primary individual in historical past to be allowed this. Not lengthy after, a year-long trial to permit MPs proxy votes within the case of maternity depart, paternity depart or adoption was introduced. Siddiq is stoic, and describes her medical interactions in a doughty, mischievous spirit, the place individuals advise her to relaxation and there are simply 17 issues she has to do first. However haring into Westminster the day earlier than a C-section was, plainly, very nerve-racking. “You may’t eat for a sure period of time, they clear your abdomen. I ought to actually have been getting ready for all that. As an alternative, what do I do? I’m sitting in a cab, to go to parliament and have this surreal expertise.”
Now we have this dialog as her child son, Raphael, lies on her, sleeping. The tableau brings out an intense protectiveness, not as a result of he’s so cute, or as a result of she is 4ft 11in, however as a result of he’s three weeks outdated, and he or she is speaking on this utterly open, unguarded approach and, by no means thoughts whether or not or not the idea of nappy mind is a misogynist conspiracy, it appears extremely unfair to carry anybody to something they are saying, three weeks after they’ve simply had a toddler, not to mention write it down. However she has an outstanding confidence, born, I believe, partly as a result of her constituency is in her bones. She has been a member of Hampstead and Kilburn Constituency Labour social gathering since she was 15 (she is now 36). The seat was held by Glenda Jackson for 23 years, and when she stood for choice Siddiq was suggested: “Why don’t you alter your identify to Tulip Percy?” – her husband’s surname. “There was an actual feeling from the surface that the Jewish neighborhood wasn’t going to simply accept me,” she says. A sense that she knew was fallacious, having canvassed with them since she was in her teenagers. When Jo Cox was murdered, “It was the rabbis who have been the primary to name me, to see how they may assist. I truly do my recommendation surgical procedures at JW3 (a Jewish neighborhood centre) now, as a result of they’ve their very own safety.” As vice-chair of the all-party parliamentary group in opposition to antisemitism, her line on the persevering with row is: “Individuals who have been problematic to start with, 10 years in the past, are nonetheless there they usually nonetheless trigger issues. It’s the identical cranks with renewed vitality.”
Being a home-grown MP, she is rather more open and fewer frightened that she’ll get it fallacious than different (albeit gifted) MPs who’ve been parachuted in. Siddiq resigned from the entrance bench when she refused to vote to set off article 50. She desires a public vote, and, oh, God, the aid of listening to an MP who truly cares about EU nationals, even whereas she gained’t get any votes from them. “I’ve realised that I’ve it rather a lot simpler,” she says. “I’m a staunch remainer and my constituency is staunch stay. It’s very totally different for me than it’s for Stephen Kinnock or Ed Miliband.”
Siddiq is from as close to as dammit to a political dynasty, simply not British politics. Her aunt, Sheikh Hasina, is the prime minister of Bangladesh; her grandfather, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, was the nation’s first president, assassinated in 1975. That isn’t to say she was raised as a future chief. “My mom was fairly discouraging, initially. She was traumatised by what had occurred to her father.” It does appear to have given her fairly a Teflon angle, which she has wanted, since this connection can be the supply of nice controversy. Hasina has been repeatedly criticised by human rights teams internationally for claims of political disappearances, detentions with out trial, threats by safety forces related along with her regime, basically the hallmarks of a police state. Siddiq, for her half, has been referred to as upon to intervene (by writers on this newspaper), which led to a splenetic change with a Channel four producer. “Thanks, Daisy, for coming,” she stated to the pregnant Daisy Ayliffe, after a reporter requested about Ahmad bin Quasem, a British-trained barrister detained in Bangladesh. “Hope you will have an amazing beginning as a result of little one labour is tough.” She needed to apologise. Now, she says, “I used to be simply attempting to humanise the scenario, as a result of it had bought very heated. It appeared like a very good time to say, ‘look, we’re each human beings’.” I questioned what she would say after I ask about her aunt: would she deny the energy of her relationship along with her? It might be troublesome since Hasina got here to her maiden speech in parliament. “I’m personally near my aunt,” she says. “She was the primary to name when this child was born. She loves the youngsters. She says I’m like her personal daughter.” There’s an inconsistency, she factors out, that Kinnock (whose spouse is the previous Danish prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt) by no means will get requested to intervene in Danish politics in the best way that she has with Bangladeshi politics. “You don’t get to be the place she is by listening to your niece on nationwide safety points,” says Siddiq. “There are two phrases she’d say to me: ‘Fuck off.’ Individuals want to grasp the restrictions that I’ve, how far eliminated I’m from it. After they ask me to intervene, it makes me look much more highly effective than I’m.”
There’s clearly a remainer, left-but-not-Corbyn-loyal group of MPs within the Labour social gathering, and I might say Siddiq was in it. However one of many lesser-remarked penalties of the present mess is that solely the very apparent cliques and outriders are seen – you may’t actually see new political expertise coming collectively. It’s arduous to say how organised they’re – do they actually have a WhatsApp group? “Not for left-remainers. However there’s a Ladies’s PLP group, a BAME one, there’s the 2015 consumption, and conversations about Brexit occur in these.”
Siddiq, for her half, just isn’t taking maternity depart. She was doing casework when her child was three days outdated: “That gained’t wait, I can’t get a researcher to do it; and it’s a privilege to be an MP, I don’t resent that.” (Arguably, she might get a researcher to do casework. However emotions of indispensability aren’t distinctive amongst MPs.) She has been requested how lengthy she desires the proxy vote for: “I haven’t given a straight reply, as a result of I’ve to see what occurs in March,” she says.
Saddiq is comically pushed, saying of her husband: “I made him change his profession to assist mine. So now he’s a contract marketing consultant in schooling. Which principally means he can choose up the youngsters.” It’s the identical mixture of self-parody and lethal seriousness you may hear in her evaluation of the previous couple of weeks: “I’m dragging parliament into the 21st century, from my hospital mattress.”