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Who is Damien Egan? Former mayor who’s become Labour’s new MP for Kingswood

Labour candidate Damien Egan has won the Kingswood by-election, winning with 11,200 votes in a seat that had been in the hands of the Conservatives since 2005.

The by-election took place after former Tory MP Chris Skidmore stood down to protest at the Government’s plan to continue drilling for oil and gas in the North Sea.

Mr Egan’s win symbolises another devastating blow to Rishi Sunak’s re-election hopes. The Conservative Party’s vote declined by 21 per cent as Tory candidate Sam Bromiley was defeated by 2,501 votes.

During his victory speech in Bristol, Mr Egan said the area had been “neglected” after 14 years of Tory misrule.

The Irish native will be the last MP in the constituency before the seat is dissolved and reshaped at the next general election.

Where is Damien Egan from?

Mr Egan was born in country Cork, Ireland but moved to England in his early childhood, before he attended Hanham Woods Academy in east Bristol.

During this time, he, his mother and his sister became homeless, triggering his interest in social housing and local politics.

Speaking to Inside Housing in 2020, he said: “When I was growing up with my mum and my sister, we had two instances where we went through homelessness. It really sticks with you, that insecurity.”

The Labour MP then moved to London and was elected a councillor in Lewisham, before becoming mayor in 2018. He has stepped down from this role as he set his sights on Westminster while living in Kingswood.

Mr Egan was raised Catholic but has since converted to Judaism, following the faith of his husband, Yossi Felberbaum.

What did Damien Egan do before becoming an MP?

After experiencing homelessness, he studied at St Mary’s University in Twickenham and started his first job was working in the Co-op supermarket in Downend just outside Bristol.

At the age of 21, Mr Egan then became a parish councillor in Downend and Staple Hill, before he moved to London.

While remaining a councillor, Mr Egan has had several attempts at becoming an MP, running for election as the Labour candidate for Weston-super-Mare in 2005 and Beckenham in 2010.

In 2018 Mr Egan was elected Mayor of Lewisham with 54 per cent of the vote, before being re-elected in the 2022 mayoral elections.

Under his tenure, he claims to delivered 1,200 new social homes between 2018 and 2022, while also becoming one of the first local authorities in the country to declare a climate emergency, pledging to do “everything within their power” to be carbon neutral by 2030.

What did he say after the by-election?

Speaking after the by-election result, Mr Egan said: “In Kingswood, as across the country, 14 years of Conservative government have sucked the hope out of our country with a feeling that no matter how hard you work, you just can’t move forward.

“And with Rishi’s recession we’re left again paying more and getting less. It doesn’t have to be this way, you know it, I know it, we all know it.

“When the Prime Minister finally finds the courage to give the people a say, we’re going to need each and every one of you again to come out and vote and make sure your voices are heard.

“Our country is at a crossroads. Under the Conservatives we can choose more managed decline, more chaos, more division or we can choose a changed Labour Party.

“A government that will put people first, ensures the child’s background isn’t a barrier to their future and that will rebuild Great Britain.”

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