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Layla Moran becomes Britain's first MP of Palestinian descent

The Liberal Democrat is one of 51 ethnic minority politicians elected to the "most diverse" UK parliament ever
Layla Moran becomes the first British MP of Palestinian descent (@LaylaMoranMP)

Britain elected its first member of parliament to be of Palestinian descent, after a snap election resulted in the "most diverse" House of Commons ever.

Layla Moran, who stood as a Liberal Democrat candidate in the Oxford West and Abingdon constituency, ousted Conservative health minister Nicola Blackwood by a winning margin of just 816 votes. Blackwood had held the seat since 2010, holding it in 2015 with a near-10,000 majority. 

Her election victory came as the ruling Conservative Party failed to gain an overall majority in the House of Commons and was forced to seek a partnership with the Democratic Unionist Party from Northern Ireland.

Theresa May's most senior advisers, Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill, have both stepped down in the wake of the shock election losses, after calls by Tory MPs for the prime minister to resign.

Moran has already voiced concerns over the Conservative Party's partnership with the DUP because of its views on equality issues, abortion and human rights.

She will be one of 11 new "class of 2017" ethnic minority MPs, alongside eight Labour MPs and two Conservatives who will help form the most diverse House of Commons to date.

Palestinian descent

Born to a British father who is an EU ambassador and a Palestinian mother from Jerusalem, Moran told the New Arab before the election that her Palestinian background had encouraged her to be interested in politics at a global level.

"Politics was always at the dinner table, it primed me to engage," said Moran. "De facto, I will be a representative of our community in parliament, and it will be a great honour, which I take humbly."

Before her involvement in politics, 36-year-old Moran was a physics teacher from Oxford and a community activist in her local area.

She graduated with a degree in physics from Imperial College London. She has lived in Belgium, Greece, Ethiopia, Jamaica and Jordan, and is reported to speak French, Arabic, Spanish and some Greek.

Her victory in Oxford will make her one of the 12 MPs to represent the Liberal Democrat party in the House of Commons and she will represent a constituency that voted overwhelmingly to remain in the European Union.

This election also saw the election of Preet Kaur Gill, the country's first female Sikh MP, and an increase in ethnic-minority MPs from 41 to 51.

The 2017 election also saw a record number of 207 female MPs elected. 

Meanwhile, votes by the UK Muslim community appear to have made a difference in the UK election, the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has said. The MCB earlier identified 39 constituencies where votes by the Muslim community might have a high or medium impact, and identified a swing to Labour among Muslim voters.