'Labour is back', says Keir Starmer after Kim Leadbeater's Batley and Spen by-election victory

Political Correspondent Libby Wiener reports on the narrow and emotional Labour victory.

Sir Keir Starmer has declared "Labour is back" after the sister of murdered MP Jo Cox delivered a narrow victory in the Batley and Spen by-election.

Kim Leadbeater, who represents Labour, took her late sister's former seat with 13,296 votes, a narrow majority of 323 over Tory candidate Ryan Stephenson.

George Galloway, who targeted voters in traditionally Labour areas with the aim of toppling Sir Keir, came third.

Ms Leadbeater's victory allows the Labour leader to breathe a sigh of relief. The party faced turmoil if the West Yorkshire seat was lost, but Ms Leadbeater’s success will ease the pressure on Sir Keir.

"Labour is back", Sir Keir Starmer says following Ms Leadbeater's win

"When the Labour party sticks to its core values and is rooted in its communities and pulls together, we can win just as we've won here," Sir Keir said.

"This is the start. Labour is back."

He also hailed a “brilliant and brave” Ms Leadbeater after a contest marred by allegations of dirty tricks and violence.

“Kim ran a positive campaign of hope, in the face of division,” he said. “She will be an outstanding Labour MP for Batley and Spen.”

Ms Leadbeater said of Sir Keir: "It's a vote of confidence in the Labour party, which is the Labour leader as well."

The result means Ms Leadbeater will now serve for voters who were previously represented by her sister, who was killed in the constituency in 2016.

Kim Leadbeater pays tribute to her murdered sister, Jo Cox

The new MP said the victory was "emotional".

“Jo would be extremely proud of me and I'm really clear, if I can be half the MP that she was, then that would be pretty good going,” she told ITV News.

Ms Leadbeater acknowledged she snuck to victory in an extremely narrow win, but pointed to disengaged voters, rather than any issues within the Labour party or her campaign.

"How do we engage with the lots of people who didn’t turn out?" she asked.

"I think we now need to look at how we do politics and how we make politics resonate with people more."

Jean Leadbeater, Kim's mother, says the win is "a little bit déjà vu"

In her acceptance speech, she added: “I’m absolutely delighted that the people of Batley and Spen have rejected division and they’ve voted for hope.”

She thanked her family saying “without them I could not have got through the last five years never mind the last five weeks.”

Ms Leadbeater, in reference to the controversy surrounding the campaign, said: “I want to say a huge thank you to the police who, sadly, I have needed more than ever over the last few weeks.”

She concluded: “The focus now is catching up on a bit of sleep, maybe having a few glasses of fizz, and then there is lots to do, and I think the campaign has highlighted that there’s lots to do.

“But I’m going to crack on with it and I will do my very best to represent the whole of Batley and Spen as their new MP. I am absolutely delighted that the people of Batley and Spen have rejected division and they voted for hope.”