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Boris Johnson news live: Minister ‘not worried about Labour’ as Tories win by-election



Newly elected Tory MP Louie French gives an acceptance speech

A Tory minister has said he is “really not terribly worried” about the threat posed by the Labour Party, after Boris Johnson’s Conservatives held their safe seat in the closely watched Old Bexley and Sidcup by-election.

Councillor Louie French’s party hailed his victory as “almost unheard of” for a mid-term government, after the count showed a 10 per cent swing to Labour amid low voter turnout in the constituency previously held by former minister James Brokenshire, who died in October of lung cancer aged 53.

But two other parties also sought to celebrate the result. Labour MP Ellie Reeves claimed it was a “remarkable result for us in a Tory stronghold” that if replicated at a general election would see Keir Starmer’s party “within reach of forming a majority government”. Meanwhile, Richard Tice of Reform UK – which came in third place – claimed the result showed his was now the only party “on the upward march”.

However, Tory Party chairman Oliver Dowden rejected the idea of a Labour surge as “for the birds”, adding: “They’ve actually got about the same vote share as they secured under Jeremy Corbyn in 2017. Keir Starmer couldn’t even be bothered to turn up to the by-election, so I am really not terribly worried about Labour.”

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Tories win Old Bexley and Sidcup by-election

The Conservatives have held onto their safe seat, but with a majority slashed by more than half amid low voter turnout, my colleague Shweta Sharma reports.

Conservative councillor Louie French won 11,189 votes to become the country’s newest MP, in a victory that was hailed as “almost unheard of” for a sitting government by the Conservatives.

The closest challenger was Labour’s Daniel Francis, who secured 6,711 as the Tory majority was slashed from nearly 19,000 to 4,478, the equivalent of a vote share swing of 10 per cent to Labour.

Reform leader Richard Tice came in third, claiming his party was now “on the upward march”, while the Greens in fourth and Liberal Democrats in fifth both lost their deposits.

Andy Gregory3 December 2021 08:01

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Good morning, and welcome to The Independent’s live coverage of UK politics.

Andy Gregory3 December 2021 07:44



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