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Tories Clinch Blackpool South By-Election with Bare 100-Vote Lead over Reform

Blackpool by-election (Credits: Big Issue)

The Blackpool South by-election dealt a blow to the Conservatives, who lost to Labour, narrowly edging out Reform UK for second place by just over 100 votes.

The swing from Tories to Labour in Blackpool South was substantial, at over 26 percent, marking the third-largest swing since World War II. Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer celebrated what he called a “seismic win,” with his party securing a landslide victory with 58.9 percent of the vote.

Reform UK, led by Richard Tice, achieved its highest-ever vote share at 16.9 percent, trailing closely behind the Conservatives. Tice expressed optimism for Reform’s future, seeing the result as a huge step forward, especially as the party gains ground in the polls.

Tories lose Blackpool South by-election (Credits: Yahoo News)

Reform’s candidate, Mark Butcher, described the vote share as “incredible” and pledged to contest the seat again in the general election, emphasizing the statement made by their strong performance.

The Tory candidate, David Jones, left without commenting after the results were announced early in the morning. With a turnout of only 32.5 percent, Labour reclaimed a seat it held from 1997 to 2019.

Sir Keir Starmer interpreted the win as a clear message to Rishi Sunak’s Conservatives, calling it the most essential result of the day. He highlighted it as an opportunity for voters to express their desire for change.

Chris Webb, the victorious Labour candidate, emphasized the electorate’s dissatisfaction with the Conservatives during his victory speech, urging Prime Minister Sunak to acknowledge their failure and call for a general election.

Labour sources indicated that the swing in Blackpool South exceeded what would be needed to win a general election, suggesting a broader discontent with the Conservatives.

Blackpool South by-election (Credits: New Statesman)

Initially, both Reform and the Tories claimed they had secured second place, with Reform particularly surprised by its strong showing. Reform’s previous best result was 13 percent in the Wellingborough by-election in February.

As the night progressed, Reform celebrated its important achievement, positioning itself as the real opposition to Labour. Speculation about a potential recount arose as the margin between Reform and the Tories narrowed.

Conservative figures, like David Campbell Bannerman, warned of repercussions for Sunak’s leadership if Reform surpassed them, emphasizing the need for a strong conservative leader and policies.

Elections expert Prof Sir John Curtice noted the near-disastrous outcome for the Conservatives, underlining the ongoing challenge for Sunak’s leadership to close the gap with Labour.

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