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Labour Win Selby And Ainsty In Historic By-Election Result

Keir Mather speaking after winning the Selby and Ainsty by-election (Alamy)

3 min read

Labour has overturned a Conservative majority of more than 20,000 to win the by-election in Selby and Ainsty, in a major blow for Rishi Sunak in a previously safe seat.

Labour's Keir Mather beat the Conservatives' Claire Holmes, Labour's only win of the three by-elections being counted overnight. 

Labour won 46 per cent of the vote-share with 16,456 vote, compared to 12,295 for the Conservatives. Labour now has a majority of 4,161, overturning the previous Conservative majority of 20,137, the biggest majority Labour has overturned at a by-election

Mather, 25, said after his victory that he understands the "enormity of what has just happened". 

"We have re-written the rules on where Labour can win," he said at the count in North Yorkshire.

"Thousands of the votes cast yesterday were in Labour’s box for the very first time. For those of you who have put your faith in our party: thank you.”

Selby and Ainsty had been a safe blue seat, and has returned a Conservative MP since its inception in 2010, with a majority of at least 12,200 at each election. 

The rural seat - made up of villages and small towns sandwiched between Leeds and York, needed a swing of almost 20 per cent to fall to Labour, and will leave Starmer optimistic about his chances at the next General Election. 

It will also be a blow to Rishi Sunak that he has not managed to hold on to the Tory stronghold in the same council area as his own Richmond seat

The vote was triggered following the resignation of Nigel Adams, a Boris Johnson ally who stepped aside the day after Johnson confirmed he was quitting Parliament ahead of findings he had knowingly misled Parliament over partygate. 

The Conservatives managed to hold on in Johnson’s former seat of Uxbridge and South Ruislip, where Conservative Steve Tuckwell won by 495 votes. However, the Liberal Democrats overturned a Tory majority of more than 19,000 in Somerton and Frome. Lib Dem Sarah Dyke now has a majority of more than 11,000. The seat was vacated by Conservative David Warburton following allegations of harassment which he denies.

Following a visit to Selby and Ainsty last week, PoliticsHome reported a sense of despondency in an area that feels “left behind” by Westminster. 

Labour campaigners felt they were being given a fresh chance with voters who had previously turned away from them because people feel worse off and were quietly optimistic about theit chances. One shadow minister said there had been a "buzz" in the constituency about the possibility of change. 

They said that voters appear more willing to listen to the party and give them a chance, and volunteers knocking on doors for the party noted a growing sense that the area has suffered decline in recent years and that local services are harder to access.

Conservatives had indicated their concerns that the nature of Adams' departure could impact the Conservative vote, having left the electorate unhappy. 

Holmes, speaking to PoliticsHome last week, pointedly distanced herself from Adams and said that she did not know him and was focussed on the local campaign.

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