Kerry was elected as the Labour Member of Parliament for Bristol East in May 2005.
One of six children, Kerry attended comprehensive school in Luton before going on to study Russian, Politics and Linguistics at Liverpool University and to take her law exams in London. She became actively involved in the Labour Party in the early 1990s, becoming Chair and then Secretary of her local constituency party and Vice-Chair of the East of England Regional Board. She served five years as a councillor on Luton Borough Council, and four years as a director of the local authority-owned Luton Airport. From 1998 until her election to Parliament in May 2005 Kerry was also a member of Labour’s National Policy Forum and its Economic Policy Commission.
Before being elected to Parliament Kerry worked as a lawyer and on political campaigns. A qualified solicitor, she began her legal career in the late 1980s working at a magistrates’ court and a Legal Aid firm, but then moved to work in the corporate/banking sector and became a specialist in financial markets law, working on cross-border transactions on behalf of a range of international clients. More recently, she worked for the Britain in Europe campaign and as Head of Public Policy at a consultancy specialising in transport issues.
Kerry is a member of the Union Unite, the Co-operative Party, the Fabian Society, the Howard League for Penal Reform, and the Labour Animal Welfare Society.
On being elected to Parliament in 2005, Kerry was appointed a member of the influential Treasury Select Committee, and was involved in its inquiries into financial inclusion, globalisation and the role of the IMF, and the administration of tax credits. She has also sat on two Finance Bill committees, as well as the UK Borders Bill Committee, the Offender Management Bill Committee and the Mental Health Bill Committee.
In April 2007 Kerry was appointed Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to Rosie Winterton, Minister for Health Services, and helped her steer the Mental Health Bill through the Commons. From 2007 - 2009, Kerry was the Parliamentary Private Secretary to Douglas Alexander, the Secretary of State for International Development. In the June 2009 reshuffle she was made a Junior Whip
Kerry was also Chair of the South West Group of Labour MPs, secretary of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Somaliland, a member of Labour's National Policy Forum, and lead contact for the End Child Poverty campaign amongst Labour MPs in parliament.
Kerry's main policy areas of interest are: sustainability, the economy, tackling poverty, international aid and trade, transport, and animal welfare.
In May 2010, Kerry was temporarily made Shadow Junior Minister in the Department of Work and Pensions, with responsibility for disability issues. Following the appointment of the Shadow Cabinet in October 2010, she was given the role of Shadow Junior Minister in the Treasury. In September 2011, Kerry was made a Shadow Foreign Office Minister with a focus on East Asia, South Asia, the Caribbean and Latin America.
Between September 2015 and June 2016, Kerry served in the Shadow Cabinet as the Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs.
Kerry was the first vegan MP in the House of Commons and has been a vegan for the past 20 years, having been a vegetarian for 10 years prior to that. She is a patron of the Vegan Society. Kerry also campaigns on animal welfare issues more generally, including in her capacity as Vice-President of the League Against Cruel Sports. Additionally, Kerry is a Patron of FoodCycle and is working to ensure that the pressing issues of food poverty and food waste are on the political agenda, having introduced a Food Waste Bill in 2012.