General Election 2017: The Maidenhead candidate from Islington who made Theresa May’s night even more awkward

Yemi Hailemariam meets Prime Minister Theresa May at the Maidenhead election count. Picture: Erin Bo

Yemi Hailemariam meets Prime Minister Theresa May at the Maidenhead election count. Picture: Erin Bottari - Credit: Archant

Jeremy Corbyn wasn’t the only Islington candidate haunting Theresa May last night – after the partner of abducted Andy Tsege came face to face with the Prime Minister at Maidenhead’s election count.

Yemi Hailemariam, of St John Street, Finsbury, stood in Ms May’s constituency to raise awareness of Andy’s continued illegal imprisonment in Ethiopia, and the Prime Minister’s perceived inaction in getting him home.

And amid the Conservatives’ election horror show, losing their majority in an election that didn’t need to be called, Ms May’s night was made even more awkward when Yemi collared her at the count.

Yemi said this afternoon: “Theresa May came in and was whisked straight upstairs. They waited literally until the results were announced before she came back down. We were taken into a huddle before the returning officer officially announced the results.

“I was wearing my ‘free Andy Tsege’ t-shirt. I took the opportunity to shake her hand and say: ‘Do you know why I am running?’ She said: ‘I do.’ But she wasn’t really with it, and didn’t seem to know what was going on, so I didn’t push it because she was really nervous and it wouldn’t have been appropriate.”

In the election, Yemi won 16 votes, finishing second bottom.

“I spent the whole campaign telling people not to vote for me, so I did well to get 16! My aim was to engage with her constituents and raise awareness of Andy’s situation in her community.

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“My ultimate aim was to get some kind of meeting with her, which I didn’t achieve. But the people of Maidenhead were wonderful while I was out campaigning in the town centre.

“There was so much empathy and 526 people signed our card asking for the meeting. So let’s see what transpires now.”

Andy, 62, is a human rights activist who fled to the UK in 1979, becoming a citizen and making a new life in Islington. But at a trial in his absence in 2009, he was given a death sentence. And in June 2014, while waiting to catch a flight to Eritrea, Andy was abducted at an airport in Yemen.