Leeds Central: Benn uses crushing win to send message direct to Theresa May

Hilary Benn.
Hilary Benn.
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Hilary Benn held onto his Leeds Central seat by a massive majority, winning 70 per cent of the total vote and increasing his share by 15 per cent.

He won more than three times more votes than his nearest rival, Gareth Davies of the Conservatives, and was further buoyed by an 11 per cent swing away from UKIP and five per cent from the Greens.

Mr Benn, who has been elected to the seat for a sixth time, thanked “the good voters of Leeds Central for putting their trust and confidence in me once again”, adding: “I’ll always do my best to repay that trust and to serve them”.

And he had strong words for Theresa May – and for colleagues in the Labour Party.

“Six weeks ago the PM asked the British people to give her a strong mandate,” he said. “It looks as if the British people have declined to do so.

“This is a personal defeat for Theresa May. But it is more than that. It is an emphatic rejection of seven years of Conservative austerity which has been borne on the backs of the poorest in our society, including many of my constituents.

“And if you want to know why so many people, enthused by Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign and our radical vision for Britain’s future, came out and voted Labour, it is because they have heard our message of hope and they now believe that change is possible.”

Hinting that the internal fighting that has previously marred Labour’s fortunes might be at an end, he added: “Our task now is to build on what we have achieved this night to maintain the unity as a party that we have shown in this campaign, and never to cease in our yearning for a fair society.”