LABOUR has won the by-election in Chester in Rishi Sunak’s first electoral test since taking office.
Samantha Dixon retained the seat for her party in the Cheshire city with a 10,974 majority.
The contest was triggered by the resignation of Labour MP Christian Matheson, who left his Commons seat after complaints of “serious sexual misconduct” were upheld by a parliamentary watchdog.
Mr Matheson, who denied the allegations, was facing a four-week suspension and was asked to resign by Labour before he quit.
Ms Dixon defeated Conservative candidate and NHS nurse Liz Wardlaw, handing the Conservatives a defeat in the first Westminster by-election since Boris Johnson’s forced resignation and the market chaos that ended Liz Truss’s short stint in Number 10.
Election officials earlier confirmed that turnout was 41.2 per cent, with a total of 28,541 votes cast in the December poll.
Labour had been widely expected to hold the seat, having won it in 2019 for the third time in a row with a majority of 6,164.
Newly-elected MP Ms Dixon said in a speech: “People in Chester and across our country are really worried.
“Worried about losing their homes because they can’t afford the mortgage repayments or the rent, worried about whether they can put the heating on, worried about whether they can put food on the table for their families.
“This is the cost of 12 years of Conservative Government. The Government which has wreaked havoc with our economy, destroyed our public services and betrayed the people who put their trust in them at the last general election.”
The result is the latest by-election defeat suffered by the Conservatives.
The last two by-elections, which took place on the same day in June, were a disaster for the Tories, with Labour snatching Wakefield and the Liberal Democrats securing a historic victory in Tiverton and Honiton.
Ms Dixon won 17,309 of the votes, while the Conservations came in second with 6,335.
Rob Herd of the Liberal Democrats got 2,368 and the Green party’s Paul Bowers received 787.
The rest of the votes were split between Reform UK, Rejoin EU, the UK Independence Party, the Official Monster Raving Loony Party and Freedom Alliance.