abour’s Ashley Dalton has become the country’s newest MP after a comfortable win in the West Lancashire by-election.
Bitterly cold conditions on polling day and the expectation of an easy Labour hold contributed to turnout of less than 32%.
Ms Dalton, who works part-time for a local charity, secured a majority of 8,326 over Conservative candidate Mike Prendergast, with a 10.52% swing from the Tories to Labour.
In her victory speech at Burscough Racquet and Fitness Centre, she said: “Tonight the people of West Lancashire constituency have spoke on behalf of the country.
“They have sent a message to this Conservative Government. They do not have confidence in them to govern or the Prime Minister to lead.
“Prime Minister, your Government has no ideas or a plan to address the big issues facing our country, like record levels of child poverty and people dying waiting for ambulances.”
While Rosie Cooper’s majority at the 2019 snap general election was 8,336, that was over 36% of the vote, compared with just over 25% this time around.
It was the first time the Tory vote has dipped below 30% since the 1997 general election, which Tony Blair’s Labour party won by a landslide.
Reform UK secured 997 votes, ahead of the Liberal Democrats on 91, the Greens with 646 and the Official Monster Raving Loony Party with 210.
The ballot was held on Thursday in the Labour-held seat after Ms Cooper, who represented the constituency for 17 years, accepted the role of chairwoman of the Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust.
Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour, which is enjoying a significant lead in the polls against Rishi Sunak’s Conservatives, was always confident of holding the seat.
It was the latest by-election test for Mr Sunak since entering Downing Street last October and comes amid a cost-of-living crisis, soaring inflation and a wave of industrial action across the UK.
New Tory chairman Greg Hands, who replaced the sacked Nadhim Zahawi this week, has been charged with steering his party towards the local elections in May amid pressure on the Prime Minister to get his party in fighting shape ahead of the next general election in around 18 months’ time.