Ukip leader Paul Nuttall to stand in Stoke by-election
Ukip leader Paul Nuttall is to stand in the Stoke-on-Trent Central by-election, it has been confirmed.
Mr Nuttall was officially named his party's candidate for the 23 February contest after the decision was ratified by Ukip's national executive committee.
He will have to overturn Labour's 5,000 majority if he is to become Ukip's second MP.
The by-election has been caused by the resignation of Tristram Hunt, who is leaving parliament to become the new director of the Victoria and Albert Museum.
It will be held on the same day as the Copeland by-election, which follows the resignation of sitting Labour MP Jamie Reed.
Mr Nuttall will hope to be more successful than his predecessor as Ukip leader, Nigel Farage. He stood for parliament on seven separate occasions and failed to get elected each time.
Speaking after his candidature was confirmed, Mr Nuttall said: "It's time for UKIP to stop being the bridesmaid of by-elections and be the bride."
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn immediately went on the offensive, highlighting comments Mr Nuttall has made in the past about privatising the NHS.
Meanwhile, Labour sources have rubbished claims that their canvass returns in Copeland show their support is in freefall.
According to the Daily Telegraph, the party has lost one-third of its voters since the 2015 election, when Mr Reed retained his seat with a 2,500 majority.
One insider told PoliticsHome: "It's bollocks. Our returns have been consistently good."