In Brief

Tory majority slashed on David Cameron's old seat

Robert Courts wins Witney by-election, while former Coronation Street actor Tracy Brabin takes over from Jo Cox

The Conservatives have retained David Cameron's former constituence of Witney, in Oxfordshire, but with a much-reduced majority.

Councillor Robert Courts took 45 per cent of the vote, down from the 60 per cent the former prime minister received in 2015, slashing the party's majority from 25,000 to 5,700.

He had been widely tipped to win the seat, which has had "a Tory MP since its creation in 1983, and at no time in that period has the sitting candidate had less than 43 per cent of the vote", The Guardian says.

Also celebrating were the Liberal Democrats, who saw their share increase from 6.8 to 30.2 per cent to leapfrog Labour and finished in second place.

Larry Sanders, brother of former US presidential hopeful Bernie, came fourth for the Greens, with Ukip following.

Batley and Spen

Former Coronation Street actor Tracy Brabin won the constituency of Batley and Spen for Labour, taking over from her friend Jo Cox, who was killed a week before the EU referendum.

She was elected with 86 per cent of the vote after the other major parties declined to field candidates in respect to the late MP.

However, nine "fringe candidates" stood for the seat, including the English Democrats, BNP and the National Front, says the BBC, adding that each will forfeit their £500 desposit "as they did not receive a big enough share of the vote".

Cox's widower, Brendan, said it was "great to see all the purveyors of hate lose their deposits".

Infographic by www.statista.com for TheWeek.co.uk

Polls open in David Cameron and Jo Cox's former constituencies

20 October

Polls have opened in two by-elections, with voters choosing new MPs for Batley and Spen, in West Yorkshire, and Witney, in Oxfordshire.

The Batley and Spen vote was prompted by the death of Labour MP Jo Cox, who was shot and stabbed in Birstall in June, while David Cameron stood down in Witney in September.

Cox won her seat with a majority of 6,057 in 2015, while the former prime minister had a majority of 25,155.

Despite the Conservatives' seemingly unassailable position in the Oxfordshire seat, the Liberal Democrats are confident of challenging Tory candidate Robert Courts with their nominee, Elizabeth Leffman.

West Oxfordshire councillor Duncan Enright is standing for Labour, while former soldier Kenrick "Dickie" Bird is fighting the seat for Ukip. The Greens are represented by Larry Sanders, the brother of US senator Bernie.

"In normal circumstances, the Conservatives would be expected to easily hold the seat, given their 25,000-vote majority at the last election," says The Independent.

"However, the Tory government's determination to take Britain out of the European Union is a direction emphatically opposed by many residents of relatively affluent and well-educated West Oxfordshire."

Witney has been a safe Conservative seat since its creation in 1983, but Oxfordshire overall is the most pro-EU county in England.

In West Yorkshire, the only mainstream candidate is former Coronation Street actor Tracy Brabin, who is fighting the seat for Labour. The Conservatives, Greens, Ukip and the Lib Dems declined to field a candidate as a mark of respect to Cox.

However, several far-right parties are contesting the seat, including Jack Buckby for Liberty GB, Therese Hirst for the English Democrats and David Furness for the BNP.

Brabin told The Guardian the decision of her far-right rivals to run was "really heartbreaking".

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