Chuka Umunna, Labour’s shadow Business Secretary Photo:ibtimes.co.uk

London parliamentarian, Nigerian-born Chuka Umunna has announced his bid to become the Labour Party’s leader, following a crushing defeat of the party by Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative Party in last week’s general election.


  • Umunna announced his bid on Tuesday
  • He is one of four Nigerians who won parliamentary seats In the general election
  • He was first elected MP five years ago at the age of 31
  • His father, Bennett, moved to Britain as a penniless immigrant, set up a successful import-export business but died in a mysterious car accident in Nigeria when Chuka was just 14 years old
  • Umunna says he can lead Labour back to power in just five years



Chuka Ummuna, who is Labour’s shadow Business Secretary, announced his bid to become Labour leader in a video released online on Tuesday.

The 36-year-old MP for Streatham in south London made the announcement on Facebook after Labour’s disastrous election defeat.

He is the second Labour MP to join the race to replace Labour leader Ed Miliband, after Blairite shadow Health Minister Liz Kendall announced her bid on Sunday.

But the pair is likely to be joined by at least three more candidates, including Yvette Cooper – who will launch her bid as early as Thursday – and the shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham.

Mr Umunna, who worked as a lawyer in London before entering Parliament, said he wanted to ‘lead the effort’ to get Labour back into power in 2020 – dismissing claims it would take the party another 10 years to win back power.



The smooth, suave and articulate politician, known for his bespoke suits, hopes to make the Labour Party electable again after the humiliations suffered under Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband.

Labour slumped to its worst defeat in almost 30 years in last week’s election – finishing 99 seats behind the Conservatives, with 26 fewer MPs than even Gordon Brown managed in 2010.

3 Nigerians
Chi Onwurah (Left), Kate Osamor (Middle) and Helen Grant also won parliamentary seats

Chuka Umunna is one of four Nigerian-born Britons who won parliamentary seats in the election. The others are: Chi Onwurah; representing Newcastle and Tyne Central Constituency, Kate Osamor; Edmonton and Helen Grant; Maidstone and the Weald.

Umunna n Alice
Chuka with his girlfriend Alice before the announcement

The announcement

Mr Umunna said: I’m pleased today to be announcing that I will be standing for the leadership of the party.

‘I think we can be winning in seats like Swindon. North, South, East, and West we can absolutely do it as a party.

‘Some have suggested in the last few days that this is somehow now a 10 year project to get the Labour party back into office. I don’t think we can have any truck with that at all.

‘I think the Labour party can do it in five years. I want to lead that effort as part of a really big Labour team, getting Labour back into office, building a fairer, more equal society – that’s why we all joined the party in the first place.’


Chuka MP
Chuka has enjoyed a rapid rise since being elected to Parliament

Rapid rise

Chuka Umunna has enjoyed a rapid rise since being elected to Parliament five years ago, aged just 31.

The sharp-suited former lawyer was promoted to shadow business secretary within two years of winning his Commons seat – and quickly became one of Labour’s most high-profile figures.

Before entering Parliament, Mr Umunna studied law at Manchester University before moving into a job at the top City law firm Herbert Smith.

Despite being in his 20s, he was already earning enough to buy a £230,000 flat in a converted art deco cinema on Streatham High Road – in the heart of his future constituency.


Umunna with his mother Patricia and sister Chinwe

Born in 1978 to a Nigerian businessman and a wealthy British mother whose father was a high court judge, Chuka Ummuna grew up in Streatham, South London – exactly the same area he has represented in the Commons for the past five years.

Bennett Umunna
Chuka’s late father, Bennett

His father, Bennett Umunna, became a successful businessman after arriving in Britain as a penniless immigrant in the Sixties, married Patricia Milmo, a solicitor, in 1976, and the couple had two children – Chuka and his sister Chinwe.

Bennett died in April 1992 on the Onitsha-Owerri highway in a mysterious car crash that was widely speculated to be an assassination soon after standing to be governor of Anambra State. He was a Director of English Premiership football club Chrystal Palace as well as Chairman of Enugu Rangers International of Nigeria.

After his comfortable childhood, Mr Umunna studied law in Manchester, where he even tried his hands as a club DJ.

After several years as a corporate employment lawyer at Herbert Smith in the City of London, he saw his chance and stood as an MP when the Streatham seat came up.

Before entering parliament in 2010 he espoused the Left-wing ideals of the Compass pressure group.

After voting for Ed Miliband Chuka Umunna became the leader’s aide and then business spokesman.


Chuka’s photos courtesy MailOnline.

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