Labour Party wins by-election in electoral blow to PM Rishi Sunak

Samantha Dixon retained the Chester seat for Labour with 17,309 votes, a 61 per cent share and nearly 11,000 more than her Conservative Party rival

NewsDrum Desk
02 Dec 2022
Labour Party wins by-election in electoral blow to PM Rishi Sunak

Samantha Dixon (File photo)

London: In a poll outcome perceived as the first electoral test of British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s leadership, the Opposition Labour Party won an important by-election with an increased margin in a north-west England constituency on Friday.

Samantha Dixon retained the Chester seat for Labour with 17,309 votes, a 61 per cent share and nearly 11,000 more than her Conservative Party rival.

While Labour was expected to win the seat vacated following the resignation of a scandal-hit incumbent, the bigger margin is being seen as a public vote against the governing Tories. Labour leader Keir Starmer said the result showed people are “fed up” with the Conservative government.

It marks the worst result for the Conservatives in Chester since 1832, with candidate Liz Wardlaw getting 6,335 votes or 22.4 per cent.

"People in Chester and across our country are really worried," said Dixon, dubbing her win as a “resounding mandate” for Labour.

"This is the cost of 12 years of Conservative government. The government, which has wreaked havoc with our economy, destroyed our public services and betrayed the people who put their trust in them at the last general election," she said.

Thursday's by-election was the first to take place since Boris Johnson quit in the wake of the partygate scandal and his successor Liz Truss resigned following market turbulence caused by her mini-Budget.

It is also the first by-election since a double defeat for the Conservatives in June, which saw the party lose Wakefield to Labour and Tiverton and Honiton to the Liberal Democrats.

The results will be a cause of some concern for Sunak, Britain’s first Indian-origin Prime Minister who took over the Tory reins in October in the wake of a particularly tumultuous period for the party.

Tory MP for Warrington South Andy Carter was keen to downplay the result and pointed to the expected anti-incumbency factor in by-elections.

“I don't think we’re surprised at the outcome of the result tonight. We are mid-term in what has been an incredibly challenging parliamentary term on the back of COVID, a war in Ukraine where prices have shot up… what I think is really, really critical now for this government is to ensure we deliver on the manifesto that we were elected on in 2019. That's our focus and I'm quite certain that's the Prime Minister's focus,” he told ‘The Daily Telegraph’.

The next general election, expected in 2024, is widely seen as an uphill task for Sunak’s leadership and the Opposition will be hoping to capitalise on the by-election swing away from the Tories.

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