Tributes flood in following death of Birmingham Labour MP, Jack Dromey

Jack Dromey died on Friday (7 January) morning in Erdington, Birmingham. Credit: PA

Tributes have flooded in for Labour MP Jack Dromey following his sudden death on Friday evening (7 January).

The 73-year-old died suddenly in his flat in Erdington in Birmingham a statement from the shadow minister’s family said.

Mr Dromey married to party grandee Harriet Harman, was understood to have died from natural causes.

A statement issued on behalf of Mr Dromey’s family by the Labour Party said: “Jack Dromey MP died suddenly this morning aged 73 in his flat in Erdington.

“He had been a dedicated Member of Parliament for Birmingham Erdington since 2010.

“He was a much loved husband, father and grandfather, and he will be greatly missed.”

Jack Dromey's son tweeted they "loved him so, so much"

Mr Dromey is understood to have died from natural causes. Credit: PA

MPs from across the political spectrum paid tribute to the 73-year-old former trade unionist and offered their condolences to his wife.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer says Jack Dromey was an MP who “lived his commitment to social justice every day.

“The proud son of Irish parents, Jack Dromey dedicated his life to standing up for working people through the Labour movement, becoming deputy general secretary of the UK’s largest trade union and then a Labour MP.

“From supporting the strike at the Grunwick film processing laboratory, when he met Harriet, through to being elected to represent Birmingham Erdington in 2010, Jack lived his commitment to social justice every day.

"Jack was recognised for his determination to stand up for his constituents and he was highly respected and warmly regarded across Parliament.

“My thoughts and those of the whole Labour movement are with Harriet, their children and all those who knew and loved Jack.”

Dromey was married to long-serving MP Harriet Harman, former deputy leader of the Labour Party and cabinet minister. Credit: PA

Boris Johnson has said he is "deeply saddened" by his death. He said his "thoughts are with Harriet and the family, and all those who knew him as a friend." Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said he was "shocked and heart-broken."

Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Speaker of the House of Commons, said: "We are all in disbelief that the life-force that was Jack Dromey has died – this is another sad day for the House and a bad start to the year.

"I have known Jack since the mid-1980s when we fought to save the Royal Ordnance Factory in Chorley - he was national officer for the Transport and General Workers’ Union, and I was chair of economic development at Chorley Council.

"He was a great guy, down to earth, always positive and always looking to support and save jobs. At his heart he was a devoted husband, father and grandfather - so all our thoughts go to Harriet and the rest of the family at this very sad time."

Labour Leader Keir Starmer says his thoughts are with Harriet, their children and all those who knew and loved Jack. Credit: PA

Khalid Mahmood, Labour MP for Birmingham Perry Barr, paying tribute to his friend and colleague: “He was a great trade union representative and always supported working people throughout his life, firstly through the T&G union, where he became assistant secretary, and then Unite, when the unions merged.

“He was always looking after the interests of working people and when, in 2010, he became an MP he continued to do that. He’ll be sorely missed. He was a gentle man – a courageous man.”

Preet Gill, Labour MP for Birmingham Edgbaston and shadow cabinet minister for International Development, paying tribute to Mr Dromey, said: “I am just really shocked. I am thinking about Harriet (Harman) retiring (at the next election) and Joe – Jack’s son, he’s a really good friend.

“With him having grandchildren – that was something Jack had spoken about, spending more time together with them. He’s always been a great friend and hugely supportive, but not just me, that’s the kind of thing he did.

“He would always go above and beyond, in his constituency.”

Jess Phillips, MP for Birmingham Yardley, says Dromey was the "epicentre" of Birmingham politics:

Flags outside Parliament have been lowered to half mast after the Speaker said "another sad day for the House and a bad start to the year." Credit: Sir Lyndsay Hoyle, Twitter @CommonsSpeaker

Members of the opposition party have also paid their respects

  • Erdington councillor and leader of Birmingham City Council's Conservative Group, Robert Alden, says the pair "we worked closely together to put politics aside and put residents first."

  • Lichfield MP, Michael Fabricant, says even though the pair didn't always see 'eye to eye' on political matters but he was fond of Mr Dromey.

"He wasn't interested in spouting Labour or Conservative or any other political nonsense, he just wanted to get the work done and get it sorted and we could agree on that" says Mr Fabricant.

  • Andy Street,  the Conservative Mayor of the West Midlands, also paid tribute:

He said: “Today we have lost a true democrat. Jack was a principled politician who fervently believed that the democratic process could improve the lives of his residents. His natural respect for political leaders, officers, and even his political adversaries revealed his own guiding principles."

 “He was a man schooled in the Union, a man who excelled in the art of politics, but one who always understood its ultimate purpose. He was a great collaborator always able to put party differences aside for the greater good. He was inventive, thoughtful, and some might even say a touch mischievous, but always in the name of getting an outcome that he believed was right. In recent years it has been a privilege to work with him and experience his unshakable belief in the value of uniting to protect the interests of workers, and nowhere more so than in Erdington. His many battles, campaigns, and passions all bore this hallmark.

 “Birmingham has lost a dedicated servant. Parliament has lost a true believer. And we have all lost a generous, inclusive friend who set a fine example."

"How can you sum up a guy like Jack's life?"

Dromey has been remembered fondly for dedicating his life to the things that mattered to his constituents.

Stephen Brown, the regional organiser for the Musicians Union in the Midlands, worked closely with the MP to make music education more available to children from deprived backgrounds.

He said: "How can you sum up a guy like Jack's life?"

"He's dedicated his life to the trade union and the labour movement and even when he was elected as an MP he was still passionate about the little things that matter and stuff mattered to him and detail mattered to him."

He adds: "Even recently during the pandemic I've had a couple of conversations with him about the impact the pandemic has had on musicians and he's fully committed to supporting us as musicians."

Jack Dromey's "formidable" career

Born in London in 1948, Mr Dromey made his name in politics through the union movement, as a leading figure in the Transport and General Workers' Union, which later became Unite.

He married Harriet Harman in 1982, fathering two sons and a daughter, and held senior roles in the Labour Party before winning the safe Labour seat of Birmingham Erdington in 2010.

He was quickly promoted to the front bench, serving under several leaders, most recently as Sir Keir Starmer's shadow immigration minister.

He also came out in support of replacing the-then Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. He chose to support Owen Smith in the 2016 Leadership bid.

In the last election in 2019, he retained his seat but with his majority fell to ten percentage points. A year ago he began serving in the the Shadow Cabinet Office team Shadow Paymaster General.

Jack Dromey rose his way up in the Labour Party ranks under several roles before becoming an MP in 2010. Credit: PA