If Labour loses Batley and Spen, Starmer will face renewed calls to step down

Luckily for the opposition leader, the party does not yet have an obvious alternative, but Starmer’s resilience will be tested, writes John Rentoul

Sunday 20 June 2021 00:00
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<p>Keir Starmer at the Batley Bulldogs rugby league stadium ahead of the 1 July by-election</p>

Keir Starmer at the Batley Bulldogs rugby league stadium ahead of the 1 July by-election

The Conservatives are set to gain another seat from Labour, according to a Survation poll of the Batley and Spen constituency, where there is a by-election on Thursday week.

The poll puts Ryan Stephenson, the Tory candidate, on 47 per cent; Kim Leadbeater, Labour, on 41 per cent; and George Galloway, Workers Party, on 6 per cent. If anything, I would expect opinion to move against Labour in the final two weeks, as it did in Hartlepool, another northern Leave seat, which Labour lost last month.

So I think the chances are that Keir Starmer is heading for another disastrous defeat, and will face renewed calls to step down as Labour leader. Indeed, Galloway, the former Labour MP, is asking people for their votes on the simple premise that he can “get rid of Starmer”. This is an admission by Galloway that he cannot win, but he can make sure Labour loses – although on these polling numbers it looks as if Labour would lose even without Galloway’s interference.

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