Kingswood by-election: ex-London mayor Damien Egan wins seat for Labour to pile more pressure on Rishi Sunak

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Labour overturned another majority of more than 10,000 as Damien Egan won the Kingswood by-election.

Keir Starmer further eroded into Rishi Sunak's Parliamentary majority as Labour's Damien Egan won the Kingswood by-election.

Egan, the previous Mayor of Lewisham in south-east London, grew up in the South Gloucestershire constituency and just overturned a Conservative majority of 11,220. He received 11,176 votes, which was 44.94% share. Tory candidate Sam Bromiley, who ran a campaign to stop building on the greenbelt, got 8,675 votes. While Reform UK finished in third place, with candidate Rupert Lowe's 2,578 votes - bigger than Labour's majority.

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The new MP thanked his husband and then said: "Most of all though I'd like to say thank you to the residents and people of Kingswood. Your honesty, your frankness has helped keep my campaign rooted in the issues that are really impacting our community - the cost of living crisis, safety on our streets, the NHS.

"Thank you for giving me your trust and for allowing me to serve the community that I'm from. It's a trust that I promise to repay, to show that politics can be different and can make a difference."

Damien Egan. Credit: Mark HallDamien Egan. Credit: Mark Hall
Damien Egan. Credit: Mark Hall

Egan repeated the new Labour attack line on "Rishi's recession", adding: "In Kingswood and across the country, 14 years of Conservative government have sucked the hope out of the country. We can choose a changed Labour party, a government that puts people first, that ensures a child's background isn't a barrier to their future and that we will rebuild Great Britain."

The victory meant the current government has lost more by-elections than any other since the 1960s, which Starmer said it showed that "people are ready to put their trust in a Labour government". He commented: "By winning in this Tory stronghold, we can confidently say that Labour is back in the service of working people and we will work tirelessly to deliver for them. To those who have put their trust in us, you can be safe in the knowledge that the Labour Party will deliver on your priorities. Labour will give Britain its future back."

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The by-election was called when former Tory minister Chris Skidmore resigned in protest against the government plans to increase the number of oil and gas licences. He said: "As the former energy minister who signed the UK’s net zero commitment by 2050 into law, I cannot vote for a Bill that clearly promotes the production of new oil and gas." He added: "To fail to act, rather than merely speak out, is to tolerate a status quo that cannot be sustained. I am therefore resigning my party whip and instead intend to be free from any party-political allegiance."

Egan could potentially become one of the shortest-serving MPs in history, as the constituency of Kingswood will no longer exist at the next general election due to boundary changes. The majority will be moved in North East Bristol, which Egan had been the candidate for.

Conservative deputy chairman Luke Hall had previously tried to reduce expectations for his party. Earlier in the night, he told the BBC: “By-elections are always difficult for governing parties. Tony Blair lost by-elections, David Cameron lost by-elections, and then went on to win majorities and actually increase their share of the vote at the next general election. So I think we should be careful about reading too much into any specific by-election result because a lot of different factors are at play."

Ralph Blackburn is NationalWorld’s politics editor based in Westminster, where he gets special access to Parliament, MPs and government briefings. If you liked this article you can follow Ralph on X (Twitter) here and sign up to his free weekly newsletter Politics Uncovered, which brings you the latest analysis and gossip from Westminster every Sunday morning.

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