The sister of murdered Batley and Spen MP Jo Cox has been named as Labour’s candidate for the constituency’s by-election.
Following a meeting of the local constituency Labour Party, Kim Leadbeater said she was “overwhelmed and humbled” by the support she had received from party members in the seat her sister used to represent.
“I have a deep understanding of the area, its people and some of the challenges it faces. I feel passionately about the strength there is in such a diverse constituency,” she said.
“I’m the candidate the Tories fear. They know that I have a proven track record of getting things done at a local level and an established reputation for working for all parts of the community".
The contest was triggered by the decision of Labour MP Tracey Brabin to quit Westminster following her election as the first mayor of West Yorkshire.
Batley and Spen was previously represented by Mrs Cox until she was shot and stabbed by a far-right extremist in June 2016.
Labour is desperate to hold on to the seat following the party’s crushing defeat in another “red wall” by-election in Hartlepool earlier this month.
The result triggered a bitter round of recriminations, with the Labour left – marginalised under Sir Keir – gunning for the party leader.
Former shadow home secretary Diane Abbott – a close ally of ex-leader Jeremy Corbyn – said it could be “curtains” for Sir Keir if they lose again.
The Labour leader himself said he looked forward to campaigning with Ms Leadbeater.
“I am delighted that Kim has been selected to stand in the Batley and Spen by-election. Her roots in the community will make her a fantastic champion for Batley and Spen, tackling the issues local people are raising.
“Batley and Spen holds an important place in the Labour Party’s heart. And Kim’s work to bring people together, just as her sister Jo Cox did, has inspired us all...I look forward to joining her on the campaign trail.”
Ms Leadbeater will be up against the Leeds councillor Ryan Stephenson, chairman of the West Yorkshire Tories.
No date has been been set for the contest although Labour – which is defending a majority of 3,525 from the 2019 general election – is widely expected to delay until late July.
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