Newport West by-election: Pro-Remain Labour candidate wins by-election in Leave-voting constituency

Defeated Conservative candidate says he has ‘never seen such anger’ on the doorstep

Adam Forrest
Friday 05 April 2019 16:22
Comments
Labour says Newport West by-election win shows people fed up with austerity

Labour has held on to the Newport West seat, winning the by-election in south Wales with a reduced majority despite a significant slump in turnout.

The party’s candidate Ruth Jones took 9,308 votes, giving her a majority of 1,951 over the Tories in the contest triggered by the death of veteran Labour MP Paul Flynn.

Fought against the backdrop of the Brexit crisis in Westminster, UKIP’s Neil Hamilton took third place with 2,023 votes as the party saw support increase from its showing at the 2017 general election.

The seat has long been a Labour stronghold, but also voted Leave by a margin of 56 to 44 per cent in the 2016 EU referendum.

Voter turnout was only 37.1 per cent, down from 67.5 per cent in the 2017 general election, with parties blaming poor weather, which featured squalls of rain and hail on Thursday.

Ms Jones, who had campaigned for Remain in the lead-up to the EU referendum, said the country should not accept a “damaging Tory Brexit” or a no-deal outcome.

The victor said: “The general consensus was that Brexit had become a cloud that was on top of people and it seemed to be stopping the main issues getting up to parliament, so the people of Newport West feel their voices are not being heard at the moment.

“The trust in politicians is very low at the moment and I recognise that. They say ‘Get on with it, we need to make sure we bring this to a close now, it’s gone on long enough’.”

Ms Jones added: “Who knows what the next few days, weeks and months will bring. But what I do know is that people have had enough after a decade of austerity.”

Labour victor Ruth Jones and UKIP candidate Neil Hamilton, who finished third

Conservative candidate Matthew Evans, who gained 7,357 votes, had hoped to improve on his party’s performance at the 2017 general election, when the Tories finished second.

He said that he had “never seen such anger” on the doorstep regarding Brexit. “People just want clarity and I’ve seen no appetite for another referendum or a general election.”

Mr Hamilton, the highest profile name taking part in the contest, sought a return to the Commons more than two decades after being ousted as an MP in the 1997 general election following his involvement in the cash-for-questions scandal.

Brexit: MPs pass emergency law forcing Theresa May to seek further delay to avert no deal by one vote

The former Tory had hoped to benefit from the Brexit effect in the Leave-voting city and campaigned saying the by-election would provide a chance to send a clear message about the UK’s exit from the EU.

Mr Hamilton said Brexit “certainly isn’t going to go away, and UKIP isn’t going to go away”. He added: “I regard this as the start of a new era for my part and I look forward to the next election, whenever that may come.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn welcomed the victory, stating: “Ruth will be a fantastic successor to Paul Flynn and will take up the tireless work he carried out for this community.

“Tonight’s result sends a clear message that the people of Newport and Wales are fed up of austerity which has robbed the Welsh economy of £1bn through needless cuts, and shows support for Labour’s alternative.”

Additional reporting by PA

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in