Ukip leader Paul Nuttall humiliated as Labour wins Stoke by-election
Ukip leader Paul Nuttall was humiliated last night as Labour held on to win the crunch Stoke-on-Trent Central by-election.
Labour’s Gareth Snell retained the seat for his party by 2,620 votes, although that was down on the 5,000 majority Tristram Hunt secured at the 2015 general election.
Mr Nuttall - who had held high hopes of winning a seat where nearly 70% of voters backed Brexit - came second, with the Tories a close third.
The Ukip leader, whose campaign was dogged by controversy, left last night's count within moments of the result being declared and failed to give a concession speech.
Mr Nuttall brushed off questions about his future in light of his fifth failed attempt to make it to the Commons, insisting his party was “moving forward” under his leadership and pointing out that Stoke-on-Trent Central had been 72nd on Ukip’s target list.
He said: “There’s a lot more to come from us. We’re not going anywhere. I’m not going anywhere. So therefore we move on and our time will come.”
In his victory speech, Mr Snell accused Ukip of trying to “sow hatred and division”.
He said: "Tonight the people of Stoke-on-Trent have chosen the politics of hope over the politics of fear.
“We have said with one voice that hatred and bigotry are not welcome here. This is a proud city and we stand together.”
A spokesman for Jeremy Corbyn said: "Labour's excellent campaign has won a clear victory in an election Ukip and the Tories threw everything at.
"Stoke has rejected UKIP's politics of division and dishonesty. UKIP's claim to represent working class people has been exposed as a sham."
Labour has never lost the constituency since its creation in 1950 but the resignation of Tristram Hunt to take up a job as the director of the Victoria and Albert Museum was seen as a major opportunity to test Ukip’s strategy of making progress in Brexit-leaning Labour heartlands.
Nigel Farage piled pressure on his successor last week by saying Ukip had to win in Stoke Central to prove it was on the march.
On a turnout of 38.2%, Mr Snell won 7,853 votes, Mr Nuttall 5,233 and Tory candidate Jack Brereton 5,154.
The Liberal Democrats finished fourth and held their deposit.
The by-election was marred by a series of controversies, with Mr Nuttall under fire after admitting that claims on his website that he lost “close personal friends” in the Hillsborough tragedy had been false.
Mr Snell, meanwhile, had to apologise for his comments about women on social media.