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Tories barely retain David Cameron's seat

The ruling Conservative Party saw a major fall in support but managed to hold on to former premier David Cameron’s seat in Oxfordshire.

world Updated: Oct 21, 2016 18:30 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times
Conservative Party,by-elections,Brexit
Conservative candidate Robert Courts makes a speech after winning the Witney by-election on Friday. The Conservative Party retained the seat in Parliament vacated by former premier David Cameron but with a sharply reduced majority.(AP)

The ruling Conservative Party saw a major fall in support but managed to hold on to former premier David Cameron’s seat in Oxfordshire, while Labour won overwhelming support in the seat held by former MP Jo Cox, who was killed during the EU referendum campaign.

The two by-elections on Thursday were significant in the post-Brexit situation, and reflected new support for the Liberal Democrats, whose candidate finished second in Cameron's constituency ofWitney, Oxfordshire, pushing Labour to third spot.

Conservative candidate Robert Courts polled 20,000 less votes than Cameron did in 2015, but won by 5,702 votes. The vote share of the Liberal Democrats in Witney rose from 7% to 30%, invigorating the party that was in the ruling coalition from 2010 to 2015.

Green candidate Larry Sanders - the brother of former Democrat presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders - came fourth with 3.5% of the vote.

Cameron stepped down as prime minister after Britons voted in the June 23 referendum to exit the European Union, and later resigned as the MP from Witney.

Liberal Democrats leader Tim Farron said the party’s “resurgence” signalled that it was "back in the political big time" and represented a return to three-party politics in Britain. “This was the 10th safest Tory seat in the country with a massive 25,000 majority, yet the Conservatives were seriously rattled," he said.

In Cox’s constituency of Batley and Spen, former Coronation Street star Tracy Brabin received 85% of the vote share after the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats, UK Independence Party and the Green party did not put up candidates.

Brabin was one of 10 candidates in Batley and Spen,including some independents. The other nine candidates lost their £500 deposits because they did not receive a big enough share of the vote.

First Published: Oct 21, 2016 18:08 IST