Uxbridge and South Ruislip by-election results: narrow Labour defeat unpacked

Uxbridge and South Ruislip Labour Party candidate Danny Beales. Photo: UK Labour
Uxbridge and South Ruislip Labour Party candidate Danny Beales. Photo: UK Labour

The Labour Party candidate Danny Beales has narrowly finished second in the Uxbridge and South Ruislip parliamentary by-election behind the Conservatives.

Labour had been widely expected to win the outer London seat from the Tories, with some experts saying it was vital to show the party is on course for power at a general election.

Yet Labour confidence is reported to have faded towards the end of the campaign, and some journalists questioned why the party had not done more to manage expectations when it had never won the seat previously.

A Labour spokesperson said: “We know that the Conservatives crashing the economy has hit working people hard, so it’s unsurprising that the ULEZ expansion was a concern for voters here in a by-election.”

Shadow business secretary Jonathan Reynolds told the BBC the London mayor’s ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) expansion policy, which affects the seat, meant it was always going to be difficult for Labour.

 “You’ve got a situation where things are very tough for people right now – the mortgages they’re paying, the energy bills that they have got. And of course then when they are faced with a potential additional charge, that is going to be a difficult thing.”

The Tories had previously dubbed the contest a “referendum on ULEZ”, with elected candidate Steve Tuckwell also saying London mayor Sadiq Khan has “lost Labour this election” with the policy.

More in Common director Luke Tryl said “every single person” in an Uxbridge focus group it ran said ULEZ expansion was a “mistake”, with no doubt hard Tory campaigning against a Labour mayor’s policy was key.

Such comments are likely to make it harder for the Tories to plausibly claim the result is a reflection of voters’ views on Rishi Sunak or Keir Starmer and provide a clear reflection of national trends, however.

Baroness Jenny Chapman also told Sky News that Labour had not even won in the area in former prime minister Tony Blair’s landslide in 1997.

But Tory MP Johnny Mercer told Sky News that a narrative of triple Tory defeat in three by-elections had been proved to be “wrong”, claiming there was limited enthusiasm for Labour leader Keir Starmer.

The constituency, previously represented by former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, has returned a Tory MP since its creation in 2010. Johnson’s most recent majority in 2019 was 7,210 votes.

The by-election in the seat was triggered followed Johnson’s announcement last month that he would be standing down as an MP with immediate effect.

His resignation came after a committee of MPs investigating ‘partygate’ found that he had misled parliament and recommended that he should receive a suspension from the Commons long enough to likely result in a by-election.

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