Meet Layla Moran, UK Parliament’s Only British-Arab MP

Published June 11th, 2017 - 05:00 GMT
Layla Moran with former Liberal Democrat party leader Nick Clegg in 2015 (Flickr)
Layla Moran with former Liberal Democrat party leader Nick Clegg in 2015 (Flickr)

The UK has voted in its first MP of Palestinian heritage, after the Liberal Democrat candidate stunned pundits by overturning a huge Conservative majority to win the seat in Oxford.

Layla Moran - whose mother is from Jerusalem and father is a British diplomat - will represent the people of Oxford West and Abingdon in parliament after a swing of nearly 15 percent during the 8 June elections.

A former physics teacher, Moran fought a tireless campaign promising to work for better schools, fairer taxation and to defend the environment should she be elected.

She will become the first Liberal Democrat minority MP and the only standing parliamentarian of an Arab background.

Moran told The New Arab in an exclusive interview this week that her roots and background sparked an early interest in politics.

"My Palestinian background has made me interested at a global level. Politics was always at the dinner table, it primed me to engage," she told The New Arab.

Her father's job as a diplomat saw her live in Belgium, Greece, Ethiopia, and Jordan, and the international upbringing helped her develop a flair for languages speaking Arabic, Spanish, French and some Greek.

It also drove her to delve deeper into international relations and she hopes her knowledge of global current affairs will serve her well in parliament. 

"Liberal Democrats are by design internationalist. As Liberals we believe the path to a good society is through understanding and mutual respect. It is always better to work in cooperation with others," she told The New Arab this week.

She also says the pluralism and diversity of Jerusalem helped instil in her a firm belief in tolerance and internationalism.

"[My grandfather] describes a Jerusalem where you had Jews, Christians, and Muslim communities coming together, who were respectful of each other," she said.

"That's the kind of vision I want for the world, where differences are respected and we are open and tolerant of each other's views. I continue to believe that a society like that is possible."

Copyright @ 2022 The New Arab.

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