Labour’s Tracy Brabin has become the first female metro mayor in England today after winning the West Yorkshire mayoral contest by 101,786 votes.
The victor secured 261,170 first preferences, a share of 43.1%, while Tory candidate Matt Robinson ranked second as 176,167 residents, 29.1%, backed him as their first choice. As neither secured 50%, it went to a second round of counting.
The Labour candidate won on the second round of counting with 310,923 votes this afternoon. Her Conservative challenger secured 209,137 once second preferences had been accounted for. Turnout for the contest was 35.8%.
“It is an honour that I just can’t put into words to be standing in front of you today as the first ever metro mayor of our wonderful, dynamic, creative and diverse West Yorkshire region,” Brabin said, thanking her family and campaign team.
“Most of all, my thanks go to you, the people of West Yorkshire. You came out and grasped the opportunity to at long last take decision making out of the hands of strangers in Whitehall and bring them closer to home,” she said. “Devolution is our opportunity to make West Yorkshire an even better place, to live, work, study, raise a family, start a business and grow old.”
“I never imagined I would be elected as MP for my home town, let alone be asked to serve as the first ever metro mayor of West Yorkshire, the first ever woman metro mayor,” she added. “Our politics are better when women are at the top table.”
In successfully running to become the first mayor of West Yorkshire, the former actor and television writer beat Tory candidate Matthew Robinson and Liberal Democrat Leeds City Council group leader Stewart Golton.
Brabin confirmed when she was selected to be Labour’s candidate that she would step down from her Westminster seat if she became mayor of West Yorkshire, believing it to be a “24/7 job”.
This has since become a requirement, as the mayoral post includes police and crime commissioner powers, and MPs are not allowed to simultaneously be PCCs or hold mayoral roles with those powers.
The mayoral result will therefore trigger a parliamentary by-election in the Batley and Spen constituency, which Labour held in 2019 with a 3,525 majority, down from 8,961 in 2017.
Batley and Spen has been Labour since 1997. The Tories, Lib Dems and Greens chose not to stand in the seat when a 2016 by-election was held, as this was caused by the murder of Jo Cox who was the MP at the time.
The win for Labour in West Yorkshire follows news of the party losing Hartlepool, being heavily defeated in the Tees Valley mayoral race and losing control of councils in England, including Harlow, Nuneaton and Sheffield.
Results on Saturday showed that the party was successful in winning the Doncaster, Bristol, Liverpool City, Liverpool City Region metro, Greater Manchester, West of England, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough and London mayoral races.
Welsh Labour outperformed expectations on Thursday by securing 30 seats in the Senedd, a working majority, under the leadership of Mark Drakeford. Scottish Labour has held onto 22 seats in Holyrood, a reduction of two.
Keir Starmer said on Friday that Labour has “changed” but must “go further”. He denied that the party is facing an existential crisis yet also said that the issue “goes way beyond a reshuffle or personalities”.
Deputy leader Angela Rayner was sacked as Labour Party chair and national campaign coordinator on Saturday evening in a bold move by the Labour leader in response to the poor local election results across England.
Ian Murray insisted that Rayner “has not been sacked” on the Sunday politics shows this morning. The Shadow Scotland Secretary instead argued that she has been offered a “significant promotion which takes her from the back office to the front”.