Labour secure record by-election win over Conservatives in Selby and Ainsty

At 25 years old, Keir Mather, the new MP for Selby and Ainsty, is now the youngest MP in the country. Credit: ITV News

Labour have won the Selby and Ainsty by-election after overturning a huge Conservative majority.

Keir Mather became the new MP after defeating Tory candidate Claire Holmes by more than 4,000 votes. At 25 years old he becomes the youngest MP in Parliament.

In doing so Labour overturned a Conservative majority of more than 20,000 in what had been considered a safe Tory seat.

It is the largest swing from Conservative to Labour at a by-election since 1945.

In his victory speech, Mr Mather said he understood the "enormity" of what had just happened.

"We have rewritten the rules on where Labour can win," he said. "People have opened their doors to us and embraced our positive vision for the future."

"The people of Selby and Ainsty have sent a clear message. For too long, Conservatives up here and in Westminster have failed us, and today that changes."

  • Keir Mather reacts to his election as the new MP for Selby and Ainsty

The by-election was triggered by the resignation of former Conservative MP Nigel Adams.

Mr Adams announced his departure in June in support of Boris Johnson. The former prime minister had quit a day earlier after being informed that the Privileges Committee found he deliberately misled parliament over the 'Partygate' controversy.

It is believed Mr Adams had been denied a peerage in Boris Johnson's resignation honours list, which was announced on the day Mr Johnson resigned.

Who is Keir Mather?

Labour have said Mr Mather was born in Hull and grew up near Selby, before going to Oxford University.

The party said he has most recently worked as a senior public affairs adviser for the Confederation of British Industry and was formerly a parliamentary researcher for Wes Streeting, now the shadow health secretary, from 2019 to 2020.

His candidacy was supported by the GMB and Unison unions.

Speaking after the results were announced from the count at Selby Leisure Centre, Mr Mather told reporters: "As a young person in politics, I really hope to be a representative for the power that young people have to make a difference."

He said he had encountered "so much hardship" while speaking to people on the doorstep, which he said had been made worse by "13 years of negligence and complacency from the Conservatives."

Asked about whether he could fully understand voters' concerns at the age of 25, he said: "Well, I'm a taxpayer too, I feel the pressures like anyone else."

Defeated Conservative candidate Claire Holmes, seen in blue, left the count without speaking to reporters. Credit: ITV News

Mr Mather said his first priority would be setting up financial support centres in the constituency, for people to get expert help with issues including mortgage payments and energy bills.

He also told journalists that he supported Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer's policy of keeping the two-child benefit cap.

"I think we're going to inherit an absolute economic mess from the Conservatives when we take power and we're going to have to make extremely difficult decisions once we do, and I support the Labour government in doing so," he said.

According to Mr Mather, the cost-of-living crisis was the "number one issue" his now-constituents had been telling him about.

Asked if people were voting for Labour or against the Tories, he said: "Well, I make no bones about it, I think local residents were extremely frustrated at the way the Conservative MP stepped down, but they only voted Labour to the extent that they did because they knew we had a plan that would actually deliver on their concerns."

After Mr Mather's speech, defeated Conservative candidate Claire Holmes left the venue without talking to reporters.

Along with Selby and Ainsty there were also by-elections on Thursday in Boris Johnson's former constituency of Uxbridge and South Ruislip, and in Somerton and Frome, where Tory David Warburton resigned in the wake of drug-taking and sexual misconduct allegations.

The Conservatives managed to hold Uxbridge and South Ruislip, but only by a narrow 495 votes - previously the margin had been 7,210 - representing a fall in vote share from 53% to 45%.

They suffered another heavy defeat though in Somerton and Frome, where Liberal Democrat Sarah Dyke overturned the Tories' majority of over 19,000 votes in a 29-point swing.

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