Sarah Teather tells residents ‘it’s business as usual for the next 18 months’
- Credit: Archant
Sarah Teather, the Liberal Democrat MP for Brent Central, has reassured her constituents that it is business as usual until she steps down at the next general election.
Sarah Teather has reassured her constituents that it’s business as usual for the next two years following her shock announcement that she was stepping down at the next General Election.
In an exclusive interview with the Times, the 39-year-old Liberal Democrat MP for Brent Central has vowed to continue representing her constituents despite her exit plan.
Ms Teather became the country’s youngest MP when she sensationally won the Brent East by-election 10 years ago.
She said: “I really want to say thank you to people in Brent for voting for me.
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“I’m not going anywhere until May 2015 so if people need my help, they should get in touch.”
The former Islington councillor, who lives in Willesden, held on to her seat in 2005 and beat off a nominal Labour majority of 7,000 created by boundary changes, to win the newly-created Brent Central with an 11 per cent swing.
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She said: “It still amazes me and humbles me that the voters were willing to put their faith in an unknown 29-year-old and to vote for me, not just once but three times. We’ve worked together on so many different things in the past 10 years and had so many successes. We did not win everything, but we’ve won many things.
“I could not have delivered any of the things I’ve been able to do without working with the people.”
Since the coalition government was formed, Ms Teather has been accused by some residents of turning her back on them when they needed her the most – an allegation she profusely denies, saying she always “did what she could” for her constituents.
She said: “I did a lot to fight against the plans to close six libraries, but it was a decision by the council. It was not a Lib Dem decision, and certainly not mine.”
Commenting on Brent Council’s decision to close Treetops nursery in Doyle Gardens, Willesden, while she was children’s minister, she said: “It was a council decision that I could not prevent. It was not something a minister could do.”
When she announced her decision Ms Teather expressed her concerns over the government’s proposals and policies on welfare reform, immigration and the benefit cap which she fought against.
She said: “Making out people to be scroungers is not acceptable and the impact in Brent will be huge.
On immigration, Ms Teather said she was “horrified” by the government’s proposal to remove healthcare from immigrants.
She also attacked the “absurd” poster van campaign targeted at illegal immigrants, the Lib-Dem’s proposal for bonds on visas and what she believes is a lack of support for people arriving in the UK after fleeing persecution.
“These policies are wrong,” she said.
“My biggest regret about politics is that it is so difficult to say something that is a bit out of the mainstream. Everybody will view what you say as a personal attack if you disagree.”
Ms Teather recalled her proudest moment as being the release of Dollis Hill resident Jamil el-Banna from the notorious Guantanamo Bay detention camp.
“Remembering this is quite emotional. I could not have run the campaign without the Brent & Kilburn Times.”
And on plans for life after being an MP, Ms Teather said: “I have absolutely no idea, it’s a totally blank page.
“This decision (to quit) was so huge, I can only cope with this decision.
“What I do know is that I will be doing this for another 18 months.”