Keir Starmer confident Labour can win back Wakefield at by-election

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer is confident his party can win Wakefield back in the upcoming by-election, following the resignation of “disgraced” Tory MP Imran Ahmad Khan

By Nathan Hyde
Wednesday, 4th May 2022, 4:36 pm

Mr Khan claimed a shock victory in the 2019 General Election, after the seat had been held by Labour for 89 years, but was forced to step down last month after he was found guilty of sexually assaulting a boy.Sir Keir told The Yorkshire Post: “We’ll put up an excellent candidate and what I hope is Wakefield can have a strong Labour MP that will represent and fight for Wakefield.

“What we’ve seen is a disgraced Tory MP who has been completely absent for over a year, not fighting for his constituents. Wakefield deserves so much better than that.

“The sooner we have a Labour MP there, fiercely defending and representing his or her constituents, the better.”

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Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer was in West Yorkshire today, ahead of the local elections

Labour has not named a candidate to stand and no date has been set for the by-election yet. Reports suggested former Chancellor Ed Balls was interested in running as a candidate for Labour, but he ruled himself out last month.

Sir Keir was in West Yorkshire today, ahead of the local elections.

He spoke to voters in Wakefield, where 21 seats are being contested on the Labour-controlled council, and candidates competing in Kirklees, where Labour is looking to regain an outright majority on the council.

During the visit, the Labour leader repeatedly dismissed claims that he broke lockdown rules by having beers and a curry in Durham last year as “relentless mud slinging” and said police have not contacted him since they closed the investigation.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer spoke to pensioners at Horbury Working Members Club in Wakefield earlier today about the cost-of-living crisis

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Sir Keir said there was “no breach of the rules”, as he stopped to eat with colleagues while working, but also insisted that voters in West Yorkshire were more interested in discussing the cost-of-living crisis.

“Here in West Yorkshire, we’ve a brilliant team of candidates and a very positive case we’re making,” he said.

“We’re laser like in our focus on the issue I think matters most: the cost of living crisis. Wherever I’ve gone around these communities people have said ‘Keir I can’t pay my bills, what can you do to help me?’

“We go into tomorrow – voting day – in positive spirits, but I know we’ve got to earn every vote in Kirklees and other places, taking absolutely nothing for granted.”

He added: “So many people, particularly people I’ve spoken to this morning, are worried about their bills and we’ve got a practical answer: a windfall tax on the oil and gas companies in the North Sea. We can use that to help people with their bills – up to £600 for those who need it most.

“I think it’s very clear which side the Labour Party is on. The Conservative party is protecting the profits of oil and gas companies and asking those who pay their bills to take a loan and then pay it back.”

It comes after Boris Johnson spoke out against windfall tax on big energy companies earlier this week and claimed it would “stop investment” in new technology and in renewable energy.

Several pensioners raised concerns about rising energy bills, during the Labour leader visit to Horbury Working Members Club this morning.

Molly Thewlis, 80, said: “Our generation have been brought up to cope and cut back. We will survive, but it will be hard.

“I must admit I’m cutting back already, turning things off around the house and doing the best I can to save money on food.”

While Carole Bottomley, 71, said she was worried about the rising cost of fuel.

“It’s about my independence,” she said. “I know have to think about how many times I go out and see people.”

However, Elaine Stringer, 73, and her partner Terry Chamberlain, 82, are confident they can cope with rising costs.

She said: “We’ve always looked after our money and we share the cost of things like dinner and transport. We live the life that we should be living and we are not in debt, like a lot of people.”