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Diane Abbott speaks for the first time as Mother of the House

Diane Abbott has celebrated the growing number of women in Parliament as she takes up a new role as Mother of the House following the turmoil that engulfed the Labour Party following her re-election.

This title is awarded to the woman who has served as a Member of Parliament the longest.

Ms Abbott, then 70, was first elected in June 1987, becoming the first black woman elected to the House of Commons.

The Labour MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington sat in the front row of the House of Commons, across the aisle from the government bench where Sir Keir Starmer and his cabinet sat.

Speaking for the first time as Mother of the House, she congratulated the new members of Parliament, telling them: “This is a wonderful job and you will never regret coming here.

“I would also like to congratulate the officers of the House who organised such a meticulous and careful inauguration. I remember when I was a new MP, they would just give you a bunch of keys and tell you to get on with it.”

She added: “When I was a new member in 1987, there were only 40 women in parliament. Today we have 264, and some of us are glad we got to this point.

“I cannot talk about the growing number of women in Parliament without referring to my predecessor, Baroness Harriet Harman, who did so much to ensure that the House of Representatives was equal and diverse.

“We are entering very turbulent times and historically this House has played a role in those events both nationally and internationally. And I am sure that will continue to be the case in the future, and we will be led in an excellent way by the Speaker who has been elected.”

MPs who paid tribute to Ms Abbott included Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer and Conservative Party leader and former prime minister Rishi Sunak.

Mr Sunak told the Commons: “We have our differences on policy but no one can deny her important role in this House and the inspiration she has been to so many young women of colour.

“(Ms. Abbott) is a pioneer in every sense of the word.”

In his speech, Sir Keir said he would be “departing slightly from convention” to pay tribute to his Labour colleague Ms Abbott.

The Prime Minister said she had “done so much over the years of her career to fight for a Parliament that truly represents modern Britain”.

“We welcome her back to her seat,” he added.

Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer paid tribute to Ms Abbott (PA)

At the start of the general election campaign, Ms Abbott faced uncertainty over her future as the Labour candidate in Hackney North and Stoke Newington.

Some press reports suggested she had been offered a knighthood in exchange for replacing the new Labour candidate in the safe seat, but she herself has stated that this is not true.

Ms Abbott had her seat suspended from the Labour baton in the last parliament after she suggested that Jews, Irish and Travellers experienced prejudice but not racism, starting a long process that saw her sit as an independent MP.

Before the end of the parliamentary session, her mandate was restored, but she was informed that she could be “barred” from standing as a candidate for the party in the general election.