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Adrian Bailey warns PM over his election strategy as he bids farewell to Parliament

By Peter Madeley | West Bromwich | General Election 2019 | Published:

Boris Johnson has been warned that his pro-Brexit election strategy may not reap dividends in Labour Leave areas.

West Bromwich West MP Adrian Bailey has stood down from Parliament

Adrian Bailey delivered the parting shot to the PM as he stood down from Parliament, having represented Leave-backing West Bromwich West seat for 19 years.

The 73-year-old Europhile says the strong support he received from constituents despite his anti-Brexit stance should serve as a "salutary warning" to the Tories in the election campaign.

The Conservatives have targeted a number of West Midlands seats which saw Leave majorities in the EU referendum, including West Bromwich West, where nearly 70 per cent backed Brexit.

Describing himself as "a strong pro-Europe Remainer", Mr Bailey said the continued backing he had received from his constituents showed that voters were not guaranteed to desert Labour's Remain backing candidates next month.

He said: "My constituency voted 70 per cent for Brexit, but their undiminished support for me is both a reflection of the broadness of the views they have on many things – and perhaps a salutary warning to the Prime Minister on his election strategy."

Delivering his farewell speech in the House of Commons, Mr Bailey said he had an "undiminished" enthusiasm for politics, but said his "birth certificate" had told him it was time to go.

Adrian Bailey was the MP for West Bromwich West for 19 years

He was first elected in West Bromwich West in 2000, taking over when Speaker Betty Boothroyd stood down, and was re-elected on six occasions, most recently in 2017 when his majority was 4,460.

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His career in politics had begun decades earlier when he contested the Tory hotbed of South Worcestershire in 1970.

After three more unsuccessful attempts to enter Parliament and a failed bid in the European elections in 1979, he moved to the West Midlands to become a Labour organiser.

He became a Sandwell councillor in 1991 and served as deputy leader before becoming an MP.

In all he contested 16 elections, achieving what he called the "unique niche" of contesting two by-elections nearly 25 years apart, both of which were on the retirement of the Speaker.

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His five years as chair of the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee was one of the most rewarding things he has done, he said.

Mr Bailey told MPs: "I have been privileged to represent a genuinely multicultural constituency, one that is heavily industrialised.

"Behind those often unprepossessing facades, there are small businesses that are at the cutting edge of our manufacturing technology and drive the revival in our civil aviation and motor industries, which has made us the pride of the world and contributed a huge amount to our economy."

Mr Bailey and his wife Jill celebrating his victory in the West Bromwich West by-election in 2000

Reflecting on his time in politics, he said his efforts to enter Parliament as a young man were hampered by the facts that he was pro-Europe at a time when Labour was against it.

He said in future he hoped to see extra powers for select committees. "They are a tremendous enhancement and a really valuable part of Parliament," he said.

Mr Bailey also paid to the "comradeship and community" of those in Parliament.

He thanked his wife Jill and stepson Danny for their support, along with Sandwell councillors Lorraine Ashman and Maria Crompton, who have been his assistants for almost two decades.

Peter Madeley

By Peter Madeley
@P_Madeley_Star

Political Editor for the Express & Star. Responsible for local and national political stories, opinion, comment and analysis.

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