The Batley and Spen by-election has been won by Labour – but with a majority of just 323.
Kim Leadbeater, who took the West Yorkshire seat with 13,296 votes, said voters had “rejected division” and “voted for hope” despite a campaign which was marred by acrimony, personal abuse and allegations of dirty tricks
The result was welcomed by Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, after recent by-election and local election defeats for his party. Sir Keir welcomed the “fantastic result,” adding that Ms Leadbeater “ran a positive campaign of hope, in the face of division”.
The result means Ms Leadbeater now represents the seat previously held by her sister Jo Cox, who was murdered in the constituency five years ago.
Sixteen candidates ran in the by-election, including the former Labour and Respect MP George Galloway. Conservative candidate Ryan Stephenson came second with 12,973, and Mr Galloway third with 8,264. Speaking outside the count, Mr Galloway confirmed he would apply to have the result set aside by the courts.
The Batley and Spen by-election has been regarded as an important test for Labour leader Sir Keir who has been expecting to face a leadership challenge if the party lost another northern English constituency to the Tories. In May the Conservatives took the Hartlepool by-election, a once rock-solid Labour seat, with a majority of nearly 7,000 votes.
This came on the back of the losses by Labour of more than 300 councillors in England’s local elections.