EXCL Labour planning to hold crunch by-elections next month
Labour is planning to hold the Copeland and Stoke-on-Trent Central by-elections on the same day next month, PoliticsHome has learned.
Senior party sources say the crunch polls are "likely" to take place on 23 February, although a final decision has yet to be made.
A formal announcement could take place as early as tomorrow.
The by-elections have been caused by the surprise resignations of sitting Labour MPs Jamie Reed and Tristram Hunt.
Labour chiefs have been giving serious consideration to holding them on 4 May, to coincide with the local council elections taking place on the same day.
But party strategists now believe they have a better chance of holding both seats if they mount short campaigns.
Copeland MP Mr Reed will formally stand down on 31 January to take up a job in the nuclear industry, while Mr Hunt will quit before the weekend to become the new director of the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Local party members in Copeland will choose their candidate this evening, with Jeremy Corbyn supporter Rachel Holliday thought to be the favourite.
Mr Reed retained the seat at the last election with a majority of around 2,500 from the Conservatives, who bookies make the slight favourites to win.
It is not known when activists in Stoke will select their by-election candidate. Ukip will choose theirs on Saturday, with new party leader Paul Nuttall tipped to get the nod.