UK Politics

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

Paul Nuttall Image copyright PA

UKIP leader Paul Nuttall will stand in the Stoke-on-Trent Central by-election on 23 February, the party has said.

A by-election was triggered earlier this month when Labour MP Tristram Hunt quit to become the director of London's Victoria and Albert Museum.

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 is due to choose its candidate on Wednesday.

The Liberal Democrats announced on Saturday that Zulfiqar Ali will contest the seat for them.

He stood at the 2015 general election in the same constituency and came fifth, polling 1,296 votes.

That represented a 17% drop in the party's share of the vote from 2010.

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

Politics post-Brexit

Mr Nuttall was confirmed as the UKIP candidate after the 10 other people on the shortlist withdrew to make way for their leader.

He replaced Nigel Farage as leader of UKIP in November, after serving six years as deputy leader.

The by-election could shed light on UKIP's level of support after Mr Farage's leadership, as well as the shape of politics post-Brexit and Jeremy Corbyn's performance as opposition leader.

The only other candidate for the seat to have thrown their hat into the ring so far is Godfrey Davies, from the Christian Peoples Alliance.

Mr Nuttall is striving to become UKIP's second MP, joining Douglas Carswell who became its first MP in 2014.

It will be Mr Nuttall's fifth attempt to win a seat in Parliament.

Nuclear move

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.

Mr Reed, a persistent critic of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, announced that he was standing down as an MP to take up a position at the Sellafield nuclear power plant.

Labour has selected former hospital doctor Gillian Troughton to stand to replace him.

Labour's majority over the Conservative Party was cut to 2,564 votes at the last general election.

UKIP has chosen Fiona Mills, a pro-nuclear power candidate who works in the NHS, to fight the Copeland by-election.

Stoke-on-Trent Central by-election: Candidates list

Copeland by-election: Candidates list

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