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New by-election woe for Keir Starmer as Tracy Brabin wins race to be West Yorkshire mayor

Sir Keir Starmer faces the potential of more by-election woe after one of his MPs secured a mayoral seat.

Labour MP Tracy Brabin tonight made history by being elected as the first ever West Yorkshire mayor – and the first female metro mayor in England.

But it means Ms Brabin, a former Coronation Street star, will now have to step down from her Westminster seat of Batley and Spen.

This will spark a fresh by-election in the marginal constituency – a key Conservative target.

It comes just days after Labour’s humiliating by-election defeat in Hartlepool.

The constituency, part of Labour’s ‘Red Wall’, turned blue in Thursday’s by-election as it was won by the Conservatives for the first time in the seat’s 47-year history. 

And there will be likely be fear among Labour’s top table of another defeat when voters in Batley and Spen go to the ballot boxes. 

Labour MP Tracy Brabin has tonight been elected as the first West Yorkshire mayor

But it means Keir Starmer faces the potential of more by-election woe, with Ms Brabin now set to step down from her Westminster seat

But it means Keir Starmer faces the potential of more by-election woe, with Ms Brabin now set to step down from her Westminster seat

Labour had a nearly 4,000 majority in Hartlepool from the 2019 election. But, in a historic by-election win for the Tories, the party won the seat by almost 7,000 votes.

Labour holds a 3,500 majority in Ms Brabin’s seat of Bartley and Spen – a West Yorkshire seat in the Pennines. 

The seat has been held by Labour since 1997, having previously been held by Conservative MP Elizabeth Peacock from its formation in 1983.  

It comes as Sir Keir’s make-or-break reshuffle looks to be in danger of stalling today as Labour MPs openly brand him a ‘coward’ and threaten a leadership challenge in the wake of disastrous Super Thursday elections.

Sir Keir ignored questions from reporters as he was driven away from his north London home, with the 24 hours looking critical for his chances of saving his shattered leadership.

Deborah Mattinson, a pollster for Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, has been appointed as his new strategy director in a bid to stabilise the party after the Tories inflicted more hammer blows to the Red Wall.

But despite being closeted away with aides for the whole day, there is little sense that announcements are imminent, as they seemingly struggle to decide what to do next.

There is fury among left-wingers and moderates after it emerged last night that Angela Rayner has been effectively sacked as party chair, with claims the Ashton-under-Lyne MP is being made to carry the can for Sir Keir’s mistakes. 

Keir Starmer dropped a bombshell last night by sacking Angela Rayner (pictured together last week) as Labour Party chairwoman - although because she is the elected deputy leader he does not have powers to axe her altogether

Keir Starmer dropped a bombshell last night by sacking Angela Rayner (pictured together last week) as Labour Party chairwoman – although because she is the elected deputy leader he does not have powers to axe her altogether 

Liverpool MP Kim Johnson took aim directly at Sir Keir saying shifting Ms Rayner was an 'appalling act of cowardice'

Liverpool MP Kim Johnson took aim directly at Sir Keir saying shifting Ms Rayner was an ‘appalling act of cowardice’

Shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds is expected to be another victim of a brutal reshuffle this week

Deborah Mattinson, a key adviser to Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, has been appointed as Labour's new strategy director

Shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds (left) is also expected to be another victim of a brutal reshuffle this week. Deborah Mattinson (right), a key adviser to Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, has been appointed as Labour’s new strategy director

New by-election woe for Keir Starmer as Tracy Brabin wins race to be West Yorkshire mayor

With almost all the council results in for England, Labour has lost more than 300 seats while the Tories are up more than 200

Ms Rayner was elected as party deputy leader separately to Sir Keir, meaning he cannot axe her entirely – with even his normal supporters conceding it was a ‘bad idea’.

Diane Abbott demands return to ‘popular’ hard-Left policies 

Diane Abbott today demanded Keir Starmer returns to the 'popular' Socialist policies from the Jeremy Corbyn era

Diane Abbott today demanded Keir Starmer returns to the ‘popular’ Socialist policies from the Jeremy Corbyn era

Diane Abbott today demanded Keir Starmer returns to the ‘popular’ Socialist policies from the Jeremy Corbyn era as Labour plunged further into civil war.

The former shadow home secretary lashed out at Sir Keir as she insisted Mr Corbyn only led the party to its worst general election defeat since 1935 due to an ‘extraordinary media attack’.

Ms Abbott also waded into the spat over the ‘sacking’ of Angela Rayner from the key role as Labour chair, saying the decision was ‘baffling’. 

The intervention came as Sir Keir mounted a desperate bid to save his shattered leadership after the dire Super Thursday results – kicking off a reshuffle and drafting in a New Labour pollster as his strategy chief.

Speaking to Sky News’ Ridge On Sunday, Ms Abbott, who described the Hartlepool by-election loss as ‘distressing’, said: ‘I think we need to be building on the policies in the 2019 manifesto, many of which were forward-thinking and popular.

‘We need to get the strategy right.’

Told that Mr Corbyn’s manifesto had failed, Ms Abbott added: ‘It was a manifesto that, taking the policies individually, was very popular.’

She went on: ‘We won Hartlepool twice under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership and, importantly, with a bigger proportion of the vote.

‘You can’t say that Jeremy is responsible for the Hartlepool result. The disaffection in post-industrial Britain long predates Jeremy’s leadership and we have to look at the roots of it.’   

Shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds is also expected to be another victim of the overhaul, with shadow Cabinet Office minister Rachel Reeves tipped to replace her.

However, there are claims that some ministers are discussing simply refusing to take other jobs, with Sir Keir facing the threat of a mass walk-out that could deal a fatal blow to his authority. Some shadow cabinet ministers told MailOnline they had heard nothing from the leader.

As alarm bells started ringing over the scale of unrest in the party, shadow Scottish secretary Ian Murray insisted Ms Rayner had not been ‘sacked’ and was instead being given a ‘significant promotion’. He told Sky News she was being moved from the ‘back office to the front office’ as a spokeswoman.

Liverpool MP Kim Johnson took aim directly at Sir Keir saying shifting Ms Rayner was an ‘appalling act of cowardice’.

Corbynite former shadow home secretary Diane Abbott also waded into the spat, saying the decision to move Ms Rayner was ‘baffling’ and demanding Sir Keir reverts to ‘popular’ hard-Left policies.

‘She didn’t take any of the big decisions around Hartlepool and we’ve not heard anywhere in the country people saying they didn’t vote Labour because of Angela Rayner,’ she said.

And Jon Trickett, who was sacked by Sir from the shadow cabinet last year, tweeted: ‘I don’t think we should rule out a leadership challenge.’

Ms Mattinson worked as a Labour pollster until the party was ejected from power in 2010, and after Jeremy Corbyn’s 2019 general election defeat – the party’s worst performance since 1935 – penned a book analysing the collapse of the Red Wall.

She is due to leave BritainThinks, the research and consultancy company she co-founded, to take up her role as the party’s strategy director next month.

Ms Mattinson said: ‘I am very much looking forward to joining Keir Starmer and his team.

‘The coming months will be challenging but I will be proud to play a part in helping Labour reconnect with the voters it has lost.’

There was a small bright spot for Labour last night as Sadiq Khan retained his job as London Mayor, although Tory candidate Shaun Bailey far exceeded expectations and slashed his majority.

They also secured the Cambridge and Peterborough mayoralty as the dramatic realignment of the UK’s political landscape continues.

However, in the latest punishing results from other key battlegrounds the Conservatives gained control of Amber Valley in Derbyshire from Labour, after winning 13 of the 16 seats being contested.

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