Blow for Rishi Sunak as Labour surges to victory with increased majority in Chester by-election

2 December 2022, 06:20 | Updated: 2 December 2022, 06:28

Labour has won the Chester by-election
Labour has won the Chester by-election. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

Labour has surged to victory in the Chester by-election in a blow to Rishi Sunak.

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Local councillor Samantha Dixon re-won the seat for the party with an increased vote majority of 10,974, defeating Conservative candidate and NHS nurse Liz Wardlaw.

It was the first Westminster by-election since Boris Johnson's forced resignation and the market chaos that ended Liz Truss's short stint at No10.

Labour hailed the result as one that sent a "clear message" to Mr Sunak and his new administration.

The contest was triggered by the resignation of Labour MP Christian Matheson, who resigned his Commons seat after complaints of "serious sexual misconduct" were upheld by a parliamentary watchdog.

Mr Matheson, who denied the allegations, was facing a four-week suspension and was asked to resign by Labour before he quit.

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Labour Samantha Dixon celebrates after winning the Chester by-election
Labour Samantha Dixon celebrates after winning the Chester by-election. Picture: Alamy

In her victory speech, Ms Dixon described meeting a pensioner who answered her door "wrapped in blankets" and was worried about her heating bills.

"People in Chester and across our country are really worried," she said.

"Worried about losing their homes because they can't afford the mortgage repayments or the rent, worried about whether they can put the heating on, worried about whether they can put food on the table for their families.

"This is the cost of 12 years of Conservative Government.

"The Government which has wreaked havoc with our economy, destroyed our public services and betrayed the people who put their trust in them at the last general election."

Ms Dixon gave a speech after her win
Ms Dixon gave a speech after her win. Picture: Alamy

She said voters had sent a "clear message" to the Government.

She added: "They have said unreservedly that Rishi Sunak's Conservatives no longer have a mandate to govern.

"His Government has broken the promise that each generation should do better than the last.

"His Government has no ideas, no plan to address the big issues facing our country.

"His Government is on borrowed time and people want to change.

"It's time for a general election and it's time for a Labour Government."

Election officials confirmed that turnout was 41.2%, with a total of 28,541 votes cast in the December poll.

Labour had been widely expected to hold the seat, having won it in 2019 for the third time in a row with a majority of 6,164.

This time around, the party secured more than 61% of the votes and a 13.76% swing from the Tories, with Ms Wardlaw getting 6,335 votes, or 22.40%.

Speaking after the result, Ms Dixon added: "I think I have been in receipt of a very strong message from the voters of Chester that they want the Conservative cost-of-living crisis tackled immediately.

"I don't think they believe that the Conservatives have the answers, I think they think it's Labour's turn now."

She described the City of Chester as a "bellwether constituency" and said the result was "really, really encouraging".