March 24, 2017

Ukip's Paul Nuttall announced as candidate for Stoke by-election

24 January 2017, 12:41 | Ella Tate

UKIP leader Paul Nuttall to stand in Stoke Central by-election

Paul Nuttall set to contest the Stoke Central by-election, say reports

Nuttall emerged triumphant after hustings alongside other shortlisted candidates on Friday night, setting the scene for a contest that will illuminate the shape of post-Brexit politics in England.

The by-election will be held alongside a separate poll in the Cumbrian seat of Copeland, triggered by the resignation of another Labour MP, Jamie Reed.

One party source told the Guardian Mr Nuttall was concerned his name on the ballot paper could focus anti-Ukip forces and harm the party's chances in what is not considered one of its key target seats.

Labour will pick its candidate on Wednesday (25 January).

Stoke-on-Trent, at just under 70%, recorded one of the highest proportions of Leave votes anywhere in the United Kingdom in last summer's European Union referendum, despite Labour's policy backing Remain.

The 40-year-old Bootle born MEP has only been the leader of his party since November 28 but is already itching to get himself into the House of Commons, according to those close to him.

In a thinly-veiled dig at the outgoing Labour MP, Mr. Hunt, he said it was hard for those "born down South with a wealth of connections" to connect with the constituency.

However, the party has seen declining support in its core areas.

Speaking in Stoke-on-Trent after his selection was announced, Mr Nuttall said that if elected he will fight for people to be able to afford to have "a house, a vehicle and a holiday".

"I'm angry by the statements by Mr Nuttall today, that's taking Stoke for granted - he's basically saying he's going to win it".

The seat is traditionally a safe Labour one, but the party's majority has fallen from 20,000 in the 1997 general election to about 5,000 in 2015.

Labour has selected former hospital doctor Gillian Troughton to stand in Copeland. UKIP came second to Labour in the last general election with 7,041 votes to Hunt's 12,220.

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