Labor’s Kim Leadbeater won a surprise victory in the Batley and Spen by-elections.
Tory challenger Ryan Stephenson was expected to beat Ms Leadbeater, sister of murdered MP Jo cox, after one of the most bitterly contested partial election campaigns in living memory.
During the campaign, allegations of bashing, intimidation, including assaults, fake leaflets, dog-whistling racism and homophobia were reported, prompting police and election officials to intervene.
After being confirmed to have won by just 323 votes, Ms Leadbeater said: “I am absolutely delighted that the people of Batley and Spen have rejected the division and voted for Hope.”
She described the campaign as “a grueling few weeks”, making a point of thanking the police, saying she needed their help more than ever.
She also thanked her friends and family, adding that she looked forward to hugging her niece and nephew.
Labor staged a massive push for votes in the final hours before polling stations in West Yorkshire constituency closed and at least two group checks were needed as the race seemed closer than many commentators had planned.
Sky chief political correspondent Jon Craig said: “It was an extraordinary by-election – one of the most angry and acrimonious in recent years.
“What a sensational result, what a return for Labor when they were struck off.”
The victory will relieve some of the pressure on Labor chief Sir Keir Starmer, who Craig said would be a “man greatly relieved this morning”.
Sir Keir praised the “fantastic result for the brilliant and courageous” Mrs Leadbeater.
“Kim made a positive assessment …
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This notice was published: 2021-07-02 01:33:00