Hitchin and Harpenden MP first father to vote by proxy in Parliament

Hitchin and Harpenden MP Bim Afolami is taking paternity leave for his third child. Picture: DANNY L

Hitchin and Harpenden MP Bim Afolami is taking paternity leave for his third child. Picture: DANNY LOO - Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO

Hitchin and Harpenden MP Bim Afolami has become the first dad to vote in Parliament by proxy while on paternity leave.

The father used Twitter to announce his absence on February 21, shortly before his wife was due to go into labour with their third child.

Before the Proxy Voting Scheme was approved in February 2018, and finalised in January 2019, new parents would informally arrange a pairing system with their party whip.

Now, biological mothers or the primary adopting parents can officially take six months leave, and biological fathers and partners can take two weeks.

Bim said his two sons are excited to have a new sibling: “We’re just over the moon delighted. I will be taking a couple of weeks paternity leave to deal with that and to help support my wife over the tough, tough nights, and take our boys to school and nursery, and just help out around the house which to be honest I don’t do very often and I’m looking forward to doing that.

“But I do believe that I will be the first father in British Parliamentary history to ever be able to vote by proxy so that I can satisfy my obligations to you to be your Member of Parliament, and to vote here on important pieces of legislation.

“I don’t want to alarm you, I will still be dealing with case work and other issues, still emailing.

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“My team will be here, my fantastic team will be here, working really hard, and I’ll be fully plugged in by phone and remotely as to what’s going on.”

The video on Twitter has been played 106,000 times and elicited a range of responses.

Wealden MP Nusrat Ghani said: “Looking forward to hearing the wonderful news - boy/girl?”

Leonie Hirst said: “Congratulations on the impending birth, but just to note that if you’re still responding to constituents and voting in Parliament it isn’t really leave! Parents should be able to take genuine time off after a birth, and that applies equally to MPs.”

Sam Nash said: “Congratulations @BimAfolami hope you enjoy the time with your baby.

“How long do you think it will be before a male MP takes shared parental leave?”

SteveC sarcastically added: “And... we put a man on the moon.. 50 years ago..! Who says reform and legislation through Parliament is slow.”