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First black female Tory MP gets promotion

PROMOTED: Maidstone and Weald MP Helen Grant arriving at Downing Street on September 4 for the PM's first cabinet reshuffle

THE FIRST woman of African heritage to become a Conservative MP is celebrating her first ministerial position.

Helen Grant, the MP for Maidstone and Weald, has been appointed joint Parliamentary under-Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice and for women's and equality issues.

It comes three years after the trained lawyer, whose father is Nigerian, was elected to the Kent constituency.

She is an alumni of an MP shadowing scheme designed to get more BME (black and minority ethnic) people into politics run by lobby group Operation Black Vote (OBV).

Simon Woolley, director of OBV, said: "We at OBV are extremely proud of her success and the positive message her appointment sends out to black women across the country.

"We wish her well, above all that she can remain convicted to her ideals of equality and fairness which marked her out during the political debates around Legal Aid."

Baroness Warsi, the former Tory party chairman, also graduated from the same scheme.

She was demoted in PM David Cameron's ministerial reshuffle and given a senior role at the Foreign and Commonwealth office.

It means the cabinet is without any BME representation for the first time in 10 years.

Baroness Warsi, however, will continue to attend cabinet meetings but is not an official member.

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