Politics Explained

Is Batley and Spen Labour’s next by-election headache?

If Labour wins the first election to the new West Yorkshire mayoralty, it will trigger another hard-to-win by-election, writes John Rentoul

Saturday 08 May 2021 21:30
<p>Tracy Brabin can’t be mayor of West Yorkshire and MP for Batley and Spen</p>

Tracy Brabin can’t be mayor of West Yorkshire and MP for Batley and Spen

If Keir Starmer thought the Hartlepool by-election was bad, he must be praying for Tracy Brabin to lose her bid to be Labour mayor of West Yorkshire. The result of the contest to be leader of the combined authority covering Leeds, Bradford, Kirklees, Calderdale and Wakefield is expected to be announced at about 4pm today.

If Brabin wins, she will be required to give up her seat in the House of Commons, because the law says you cannot be a police and crime commissioner (PCC) and an MP – and the mayor of West Yorkshire, a new post, will be the PCC for the area. (Dan Jarvis is mayor for the Sheffield city region and an MP because he isn’t a PCC.)

That will mean a by-election in Batley and Spen, Brabin’s constituency, in the middle of West Yorkshire. And Batley and Spen is one of many northern Labour seats that are vulnerable to the Conservatives as they hoover up the working-class Leave vote.

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