Labour selects Mayor in London as Kingswood by-election candidate

Damien Egan, who grew up in South Gloucestershire, is currently the Mayor of Lewisham in Greater London. Credit: PA

Labour has selected Damien Egan as its candidate for the upcoming by-election in Kingswood, triggered by the resignation of Conservative MP Chris Skidmore.

Mr Egan is currently the Mayor of Lewisham in Greater London but was raised in and around Kingswood.In 2023 he beat Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees to be selected as the Party's candidate for the newly created seat of Bristol North East, which he'll still hope to win in the general election later this year when boundary changes eradicate the Kingswood seat.

Responding to news of his selection on Tuesday 9 January, Mr Egan said: "I’m looking forward to being able to go around the areas I grew up in and give residents a hardworking representative who’s on their side.

"Speaking to residents in Kingswood today, it’s clear that, just like the former MP, people are fed up of this government, and ready for change.

"In just a few weeks, we’ll have the opportunity to send Rishi Sunak a message that it’s time for that change."

The by-election in Kingswood is expected to be one of three that Rishi Sunak will have to face in 2024. It follows several significant defeats for the Conservatives in similar electoral tests over the past couple of years. 

Chris Skidmore, who has been the Conservative MP for Kingswood since 2010, officially resigned on Monday in protest against proposed legislation that would effectively grant new licenses for oil and gas drilling in the North Sea, and increase fossil fuel production.

Chris Skidmore has resigned as Kingswood MP. Credit: UK Parliament

Mr Skidmore, a former energy minister, and green champion, said: "I can also no longer condone nor continue to support a government that is committed to a course of action that I know is wrong and will cause future harm". 

In his words, the Bill would do nothing more than "to send a global signal that the UK is rowing ever further back from its climate commitments" - something Rishi Sunak has been criticised for doing ever since he watered down several key climate pledges. 

Mr Skidmore has faced backlash for resigning so close to a general election, with the Reform Party leader Richard Tice demanding he repays the cost to the taxpayer of triggering a by-election when the winning candidate will represent the constituency for a matter of months. 

Mr Tice wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter: "Waste of circa £250,000 local taxpayers cash! Has he a cosy well paid eco job to go to? He should repay the cost."

Kingswood will no longer exist at the next general election due to boundary changes.

Almost half of it will fall into the newly created North East Somerset and Hanham constituency - which Jacob Rees-Mogg will be contesting - while the rest will predominantly be swallowed by Bristol North East and Filton and Bradley Stoke. Less than 1% will be taken by Thornbury and Yate.