1. ITV Report

Labour and Ukip hit campaign trail in Stoke-On-Trent by-election

Paul Nuttall (left) and Jeremy Corbyn Photo: PA

Labour and Ukip have brought out their heavyweights as they bid to take the Stoke-on-Trent Central by-election.

Party leaders Jeremy Corbyn and Paul Nuttall hit the campaign trail ahead of the February 23 by-election caused by the resignation of Labour MP Tristram Hunt.

Mr Nuttall opened a campaign office in Hanley surrounded by supporters and said he would be a champion of "real Brexit".

While Mr Corbyn knocked on doors with party supporters and candidate Gareth Snell in the Bentilee suburb - but both refused to be interviewed about the campaign.

Paul Nuttall during his campaign launch for the Stoke-on-Trent Credit: PA

Labour held a majority of more than 5,000 over Ukip the last time the voters in Stoke-on-Trent went to the polls in 2015, but Ukip said they were confident they can "pull off a shock".

Mr Nuttall said:

We're running a professional campaign, there's a real buzz around the place and we're taking this election very seriously indeed.

– Ukip party leader, Paul Nuttall
Jeremy Corbyn hits campaign trail in Hanley, Stoke Credit: PA

Three miles away, Labour campaigners were joined by Mr Corbyn to leaflet for Mr Snell, former leader of Newcastle Borough Council.

In a series of tweets dating from July, Mr Snell had referred to Mr Corbyn as an "IRA supporting friend of Hamas", which he then claimed was a demonstration of the "absurdity of the hyperbole" surrounding last summer's leadership contest.

The Press Association requested interviews with both Mr Corbyn and Mr Snell to discuss their campaign and Ukip's claims their party was in disarray over Brexit, but were rebuffed by a party aide.

When approached directly about the by-election campaign, Mr Corbyn said:

The campaign is going fine, thank you very much, absolutely fine.

– Labour party leader, Jeremy Corbyn

Replying to a question about Mr Snell's tweets, he said:

The candidate and I are great friends and we've been knocking doors together, we're very happy.

– Labour party leader, Jeremy Corbyn

Mr Snell refused to comment when approached about his tweets.

The candidates for the Stoke-On-Trent by-election are:

  • Liberal Democrat, Zulfiqar Ali
  • Conservative, Jacl Brereton
  • Christian Peoples, Godfrey Davies
  • Ukip, Paul Nuttall
  • Labour, Gareth Snell

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