Witney and Batley & Spen by-elections: Tory majority slashed in David Cameron’s old seat

The Liberal Democrats surged to second place.

NS

Sign Up

Get the New Statesman's Morning Call email.

The Tories have held David Cameron's former Oxfordshire seat Witney, but with a majority of just 5,702 votes. 

Robert Courts received 45 per cent of the vote, compared to the 60 per cent enjoyed by his predecessor. The majority has been reduced by more than 20,000 votes.

The Liberal Democrat candidate Liz Leffman, though, managed to increase her party's share of the vote from 7 per cent in 2015 to 30 per cent. Lib Dem leader Tim Farron said: "It is a clear rejection of the Conservative Brexit government’s plan to take Britain out of the single market."

Labour's support dropped slightly, from 17 per cent to 15 per cent.

In another constituency, though, Jo Cox's old seat of Batley and Spen, Labour's candidate Tracy Brabin won with a landslide.

In respect for Cox, who was killed in June, none of the other major parties contested the seat, and Brabin received 85.8 per cent of the vote, although turnout was low. 

The nine independent and far-right candidates who did stand all lost their deposits. However, Brabin was heckled by some of their supporters while she gave her victory speech.

In it, she thanked the local community and said the victory was "bittersweet".

You can read more about the atmosphere in Batley and Spen here.

Julia Rampen is the digital news editor of the New Statesman (previously editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog). She has also been deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines.