Bleary-eyed viewers tuning in to breakfast TV yesterday morning to catch the previous night’s by-election results might have wondered: Who on earth is that apple cheeked young whippersnapper beaming from ear to ear?
With his crinkle-cut hair and crisp dark suit, the fresh-faced stripling was gabbling excitedly to reporters.
His earnest cheer was straight out of an Enid Blyton novel: goodness me, the little lad was barely out of short trousers.
So imagine the nation’s collective tea spluttering when viewers discovered that this was in fact the new Honourable Member for Selby – the youngest MP in the Commons.
Meet Keir Mather, who at 25 years of age has just overturned a 20,000- strong Tory majority in the North Yorkshire constituency. He now becomes the ‘Baby of the House’, an honorific generally held with some embarrassment, since it suggests a lack of experience.
Meet Keir Mather (right), who at 25 years of age has just overturned a 20,000- strong Tory majority in the North Yorkshire constituency
Labour’s youngest MP is pictured meeting with supporters after winning the election
And that certainly seems to be the case with young Mather: even a cursory glance at his CV shows how little time he has had on this planet to actually do anything. True, Pitt the Younger became prime minister aged 24 in 1783.
But Pitt had matriculated at Cambridge when he was 13 – while Master Mather graduated from Oxford only in 2019.
His only known job has been a year long stint working for shadow health secretary Wes Streeting as a researcher, along with a brief spell as a ‘public affairs adviser’ at the CBI, that scandal-plagued business-lobby group battling accusations of sexual misconduct (none relating to young Keir, of course).
Little, in fact, is known about the precocious youth that the good people of Selby have chosen to fight their corner – other than that his has been a life steeped in Labour politics.
He was born in Hull and his mother Jill, a teacher, named him (as Sir Keir Starmer himself was) after the party’s first leader, Keir Hardie. (Hardie was working down coal mines from the age of ten – now there’s another man who had to grow up fast.)
His stepfather George Tambaros – nicknamed Gorgeous George by friends – appeared on the long-running cookery show Come Dine With Me in 2015, serving a leg of lamb with Cypriot potatoes. Mr Tambaros ran a restaurant in Hull called The Omelette until around 2014.
These days he works in property. In 2016, Mather won a place at Wadham College, Oxford, to study politics. Yesterday, fellow students told the Mail Mather was always determined to become an MP and ‘everything he did was scheming and planning towards that goal’.
Naturally, Mather spent his time at Oxford immersed in student activism. He was a boisterous member of the Oxford University Labour Club (OULC). During an OULC meeting, he supported a motion demanding a ‘people’s vote’ on Brexit, including an option to remain – just as Sir Keir Starmer was pushing for the same in Westminster.
Mather is also an unflinching supporter of gay rights. When the Russian ambassador visited the Oxford Union debating chamber in 2018, Mather garnered a round of applause for denouncing Russia’s treatment of gay people in Chechnya. He later bemoaned the timing of the visit – during Oxford Pride week – as ‘hugely insensitive’.
The firebrand undergraduate added: ‘To make matters worse, they [the Union] are hosting Germaine Greer the week after Pride, an individual who has made dehumanising and downright dangerous comments about transgender women and their rights as human beings.’
He castigated Greer, a key voice of feminism since the 1970s, as ‘an abhorrent transphobe’. (She maintains that trans-identifying males are ‘not women’.)
Whether Mather agrees with his new boss Starmer that some women have penises remains to be clarified. Yesterday morning, Tory minister Johnny Mercer wasted no time in teasing Mather.
Mercer worried Mather’s selection would see the Commons turn into a ‘repeat of the Inbetweeners’, a reference to the Channel 4 comedy about four hapless teenagers.
‘This guy has been at Oxford University more than he’s been in a job,’ Mercer huffed. ‘You put a chip in him there and he just repeats Labour lines.’
His earnest cheer was straight out of an Enid Blyton novel: goodness me, the little lad was barely out of short trousers
Keir Mather speaks at Selby Leisure Centre, North Yorkshire
Thankfully, Mather’s mum Jill Tambaros stuck up for him, telling Sky News: ‘He does not appear to be like a 25-yearold – he’s confident, he’s mature, he’s got a good head on his shoulders.’
She added that he had, among other early jobs, ‘worked on the street selling paella… so he has seen something of life’. Certainly, Mather has shown he understands one key rule for succeeding in politics: absolute loyalty to the boss.
He has infuriated the Labour Left by supporting Starmer’s controversial decision to retain the Government’s child-welfare cap should Labour win power. He’s clearly got his eye on a frontbench role.
Before long, surely, the newbie MP will be rewarded with an invite to the chief whips’ office for a late-night chinwag and glass of whisky. Let’s just hope they don’t mix him up with the work-experience boy