• Sunday, May 26, 2024
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BusinessDay

Fresh pressure on UK’s Prime Minister after Labour trounces ruling party in bye election

Rishi Sunak wins polls to become UK’s new Prime Minister

UK’s Labour party has won the Blackpool South by-election on another disastrous night for Rishi Sunak.

The party’s candidate, Chris Webb, become the Lancashire seat’s new MP as the Tory vote collapsed by 32%.

The result in one of the Red Wall seats the Conservatives won in 2019 will set alarm bells ringing among the party’s MPs with the general election election on the horizon.

The huge 26% swing from the Tories to Labour will also raise further questions about Sunak’s future as PM, with rebel MPs ready to mount a challenge against his leadership.

Webb received 10,825 votes, giving him a majority of 7,607 over Tory candidate David Jones, who only beat Reform UK’s Mark Butcher by 117 votes.

The by-election was held after Scott Benton, who won the seat for the Conservatives at the 2019 general election, quit following a lobbying scandal.

Benton had the Tory whip suspended after he was filmed last year offering to help the gambling industry in exchange for money.

Following an investigation, he was handed a 35-day suspension from the Commons.

The by-election result means Labour has regained a seat it previously held between 1997 and 2019.

It is also the 10th by-election defeat Sunak has suffered in just 18 months as prime minister, and reduces the Tories’ working Commons majority – which was 80 after the 2019 election – to 47.

Chris Webb said: “The people of Blackpool South have spoken for Britain.

“They have said to Rishi Sunak and to the Conservatives they’ve had enough. They’ve had enough of 14 years of the Conservatives being in power, they’ve lost the trust of the British people and Blackpool has had enough of this failed government, which has crashed the economy, destroyed our public services and put up taxes.

“They have said it is time for change and that change has started here in Blackpool tonight.”
Keir Starmer hailed the “seismic” result, which coincided with local elections across England and Wales.

He said: “This is the one contest where voters had the chance to send a message to Rishi Sunak’s Conservatives directly, and that message is an overwhelming vote for change.
“The swing towards the Labour Party in Blackpool South is truly historic and shows that we are firmly back in the service of working people.”

A Conservative Party spokesperson said: “This was a tough fight, and David Jones was an excellent candidate who campaigned hard for every single vote.

“This was always going to be difficult election given the specific circumstances related to the previous incumbent.

“What has been clear is that a vote for Reform is a vote for Sir Keir Starmer – taking us right back to square one.”