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Gisela Stuart MP

Stuart, who was born as Gisela Gschaider in Velden, Bavaria, West Germany, was raised in her parents' Roman Catholic faith. She attended the Realschule Vilsbiburg on Amselstraße in Vilsbiburg.

After serving an apprenticeship in bookselling, she moved to Britain in 1974 in order to improve her English and to undertake a Business Studies course at Manchester Polytechnic. Stuart subsequently relocated to the Midlands.

In 1994 Stuart contested the Worcester and South Warwickshire seat at the European Elections.

Parliamentary career

In 1995, Stuart was selected as Labour's prospective parliamentary candidate for the Birmingham Edgbaston constituency, which had been held by the Conservative Party for over 70 years. On 1 May 1997, Stuart was elected as the first ever Labour MP for the seat, making it one of a succession of traditionally true blue seats to succumb to the landslide Labour victory. Stuart's victory was the first televised Labour gain of the evening.

During the first Tony Blair premiership, Stuart served on the Social Security Select Committee and in 1998 as PPS to Home Office Minister of State Paul Boateng, before joining the Government in 1999 as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health. Stuart left the Government in the reshuffle that followed the 2001 General Election.

In Blair's second term, Stuart was appointed as one of the UK Parliamentary Representatives to the European Convention, which was tasked with drawing up a new constitution for the European Union. In this capacity, Stuart also served as one of the 13 members of the Convention's Presidium - the steering group responsible for managing the business of the Convention.

The experience of drawing up the Constitution had a significant impact upon Stuart's views of the European Union. When the draft Constitution finally emerged, Stuart was amongst its most trenchant critics, stating that it had been drawn up by a "self-selected group of the European political elite" determined to deepen European integration. She subsequently expounded upon these views in a 2004 Fabian Society pamphlet, "The Making of Europe's Constitution".

Between 2001 and 2010, Stuart also served as a member of the House of Commons Select Committee on Foreign Affairs.

She held Birmingham Edgbaston for Labour at the 2005 General Election but her majority was exactly halved in both percentage and numerical terms. Despite the predictions of the pundits, Stuart went on to retain the seat at the 2010 general election, against a national tide of Labour defeat.  Her successful campaign has been seen as a model for a new style of community-based Labour politics. It also earned her the title of Survivor of the Year at The Spectator magazine’s 2010 Parliamentarian of the Year awards, which was presented to her by the new Conservative Prime Minister, David Cameron. She retained her seat at the 2015 General Election with a majority of 2,706, more than double her majority from 2010.

She is a signatory of the Henry Jackson Society principles, which promote the spread of liberal democracy across the world and the maintenance of a strong military with global expeditionary reach. Following the election, she joined the Commons Select Committee on Defence.