Harry Harpham: Death of Labour MP triggers Sheffield by-election

Party looks certain to retain safe seat of Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough, previously represented by Lord Blunkett

Labour faces its second by-election test in a northern stronghold since Jeremy Corbyn became party leader following the death of a respected left-wing MP.

Harry Harpham, who became the MP for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough at last year’s election, died from cancer at the age of 61. Mr Corbyn led tributes to the former miner, whom he described as a “proud socialist” who was “dedicated to justice for working people”.

The Labour leader said: “To the very end he was fighting for working people in Parliament. What a decent man he was and he will be sadly missed by all his friends in the Labour Party.”

Mr Harpham secured 57 per cent of the vote at the election, with a majority of nearly 14,000 over second-placed Ukip.

Labour looks certain to retain the safe seat, which was previously represented by Lord Blunkett.

But the size of its vote will be studied carefully for indications of any impact of the Corbyn leadership on Labour support. The party achieved an impressive victory in the Oldham West and Royton by-election in December.

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