Tracy Brabin has formally quit as the MP for Batley and Spen after being voted in as the first West Yorkshire mayor.
She was elected to the House of Commons in a 2016 by-election following the murder of Jo Cox, and held the seat in 2017 and again in 2019 despite a Tory onslaught in the region.
After Sir Keir Starmer’s dreadful weekend, the by-election could prove another headache for Labour.
Britain Elects calculates that the Tories could now have a very slight lead in the constituency of 0.3 per cent based on local election results.
Although its not the best barometer for parliamentary support, it is indicative of shifts nonetheless, they note.
Batley & Spen constituency, local ward results [aggregate]:— Britain Elects (@BritainElects) May 9, 2021
Con: 39.9% (+16.2)
Lab: 39.6% (-2.5)
LDem: 11.6% (-1.5)
Grn: 6.8% (+3.3)
Ind: 1.9% (-)
No UKIP (-15.7) as prev.
LE results not the best barometer for parliamentary support, but indicative of shifts nonetheless…
Brabin held the seat with a reduced majority of 3,525 in 2019, down 12.8 per cent from 2017.
The Brexit Party polled at just 3.2 per cent, which means the result would depend on the Labour to Conservative “defection rate”.
But as one Conservative activist told ITV, the by-election would be “a free hit” for the Tories and a chance “to give Labour another kicking”.
The big choice for Labour is deciding when to hold the by-election.
Hold it soon and they could capitalise on the relatively better performances for Labour candidates in the local elections, but take their time and the Conservative’s so-called vaccine boost could have worn off.
What’s more, they will have time to select the right candidate, which, as Hartlepool showed, could be key.