Election 2015: Soprano makes Balls face the music in Leeds

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A self-styled “strong, passionate, Yorkshire lass”, Andrea Jenkyns has caused arguably the biggest General Election shock in recent contests.

But the 40-year-old soprano singer who toppled Labour big beast Ed Balls said moments after her victory that she was “quite chilled” about what she had achieved, before admitting: “It all seems quite surreal.”

Conservative Andrea Jenkyns reacts after beating Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls in the Morley and Outwood constituency. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Conservative Andrea Jenkyns reacts after beating Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls in the Morley and Outwood constituency. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

The new Morley and Outwood MP caused a stir when she first walked into the count in the cavernous Leeds Arena wearing the kind of bright red dress normally associated with her political rivals.

And she had to endure a nail-biting recount which meant her declaration was five hours later than the original estimate.

But, after Ms Jenkyns triumphed, she was cheered by her biggest supporter - her mother Valerie, who sported the same beaming smile as her daughter.

Speaking straight after her victory, she described how the death of her “beloved” lorry driver father Clifford had pushed her into standing for Parliament.

He died in November 2011 after contracting a hospital infection and she has since been heavily involved in campaigning for better patient care.

“It was losing my dad,” she said when asked why she stood.

“He went in for a routine op and through complications he caught MRSA and died.”

She added: “I lost my dad in unfortunate circumstances and I just wanted to go in (to Parliament) to make the NHS a better place for all.”

Asked whether this had informed her priorities as a politician, she said: “One hundred percent - it’s health, education, business and jobs.”

Ms Jenkyns will be hoping for a smoother start to her parliamentary career compared to her early weeks as a Tory county councillor in Lincolnshire.

Weeks after she defeated the British National Party candidate in Boston North West in 2009, Ms Jenkyns was forced to resign.

It was discovered she was not eligible to be a candidate due to her role as a part-time music tutor for the council-run Lincolnshire Music Service.

She quit her tutoring job and commented at the time: “Frankly I do feel let down by the council as throughout this period I have acted with total openness and with good faith.

“I sought advice from the county council whether I was eligible to stand and I received clear and unequivocal advice that I could do so.”

A by-election was called and Ms Jenkyns squeaked home by 16 votes - ahead of the BNP.

After she was selected to challenge Mr Balls for the West Yorkshire seat of Morley and Outwood, Ms Jenkyns then lost her council seat at the 2013 elections to Ukip.

On her career, Ms Jenkyns has described how she left school and went straight into employment - working her way up from a “retail Saturday assistant to senior management”, with 15 years in management in the private sector working for multi-national companies.

She also worked in the public sector via her music tutor work in three secondary schools.

The Conservative opted to retrain in her late 30s and completed a diploma in economics from the Open University before graduating from the University of Lincoln aged 40 after studying international relations and politics.

Ms Jenkyns also says she is a “massive animal lover” - so much so she has two Miniature Schnauzer dogs called Lady and Godiva.

After her triumph, she said she was still trying take it all in - especially being such a prominent part of the story of Labour’s woes.

She tried to play down suggestions her defeat of the former shadow chancellor was the “Portillo moment” of the 2015 election.

And she said Mr Balls had been a “gentleman” and “honourable” in defeat.

She said: “He said ‘I know you’ll make a very good MP. It’s been a fair fight’. There was a lot of humility there.”

Ms Jenkyns said: “For two years and two months I’ve been dreaming about this moment and it all seems quite surreal.”

She said: “It’s been such a journey and it’s now the calm after the storm.”

The new MP said: “I love the area. I’m committed and I want to to be a strong voice for Yorkshire.”