Boris Johnson – 2022 Tribute to Jack Dromey

The tribute made by Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, in the House of Commons on 2 February 2022.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. On 7 January, this House suffered the loss of the hon. Member for Birmingham, Erdington, Jack Dromey, and it is right that we should come together now in tribute to his memory. Let me offer my condolences, on behalf of the whole Government, to the Mother of the House, the right hon. and learned Member for Camberwell and Peckham (Ms Harman), and her family.

Although Jack and I may have come from different political traditions, I knew him as a man of great warmth and energy and compassion. I can tell the House that one day—a very hot day—Jack was driving in Greece when he saw a family of British tourists, footsore, bedraggled and sunburned, with the children on the verge of mutiny against their father: an experience I understand. He stopped the car and invited them all in, even though there was barely any room. I will always be grateful for his kindness, because that father was me, and he drove us quite a long way.

Jack had a profound commitment to helping all those around him, and those he served, and he commanded the utmost respect across the House. He will be remembered as one of the great trade unionists of our time—a veteran of the Grunwick picket lines, which he attended with his future wife, where they campaigned alongside the mainly Asian female workforce at the Grunwick film processing laboratory. Having married someone who would go on to become, in his words,

“the outstanding parliamentary feminist of her generation”,

Jack became, again in his words, Mr Harriet Harman née Dromey.

Jack was rightly proud of the achievements of the right hon. and learned Member for Camberwell and Peckham, but we should remember today his own contribution to this House during his 11 years as the Member for Birmingham, Erdington. He was a fantastic local campaigner who always had the next cause, the next campaign, the next issue to solve. I was struck by the moving tribute from his son Joe, who described how Jack was always furiously scribbling his ideas and plans in big letters on lined paper, getting through so much that when Ocado totted up their sales of that particular paper one year, they ranked Jack as their No. 1 customer across the whole of the United Kingdom.

Jack combined that irrepressible work ethic with a pragmatism and spirit of co-operation, which you have just described so well, Mr Speaker. He would work with anyone if it was in the interests of his constituents. As Andy Street, the Conservative Mayor of the West Midlands, remarked:

“He was a great collaborator always able to put party differences aside for the greater good… Birmingham has lost a dedicated servant… And we have all lost a generous, inclusive friend who set a fine example.”

While Jack once said that he was born on the left and would die on the left, I can say that he will be remembered with affection and admiration by people on the right and in the middle, as well as on the left. Our country is all the better for everything he gave in the service of others.