Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves is optimistic that Labour can overturn the Tories’ 20,000-plus majority in Selby and Ainsty in the upcoming by-election, as people are “very angry” with the Government.
The contest on July 20 was triggered by the resignation of staunch Boris Johnson supporter Nigel Adams, after he was denied a peerage in the former prime minister’s resignation honours list.
Mr Adams held the North Yorkshire seat for the Conservatives since it was created in 2010, taking 60% of the vote in 2019.
Labour came second with 25% of the vote, 35 percentage points behind the Tories.
Ms Reeves said a Labour victory is realistic because of constituents’ anger about high prices and Mr Adams’ exit.
Speaking to the PA news agency from Selby, where she was launching Labour’s campaign alongside the party’s candidate Keir Mather, the shadow chancellor said: “The key issue that is coming up on the doors in Selby and Ainsty is around the cost-of-living crisis.”
Some 12,300 homeowners in the constituency will see their mortgage rates rising by an average of £2,700 a year, she said.
“They know the people to blame for that are the Conservative Government and they’re very angry about it.
“And the other thing that people are angry about is that right now, in the middle of a massive cost-of-living crisis, their MP has just walked away.
“I think that’s just incredibly disrespectful and that’s how people feel.”
She said there is “no risk of the vote being split” between Labour and the Liberal Democrats, who finished third with 9% in 2019.
It comes as polling showed Labour is extending its lead over the Tories nationally.
A YouGov survey of 2,294 people saw Sir Keir Starmer’s party take a 25-point lead, while support for the Conservatives fell to its lowest level in more than four months.
Mr Mather, who at 25 would be the youngest MP in the Commons if elected, has made supporting residents struggling with soaring prices his top priority.
He has pledged to offer regular financial support surgeries to constituents.
Asked about other measures a Labour government would take, Ms Reeves pointed to the party’s mortgages plan, which would see banks forced to help homeowners struggling with payments by allowing a switch to interest-only payments or lengthening their mortgage period.
Mr Mather said: “The Tory mortgage penalty is devastating for family finances across Selby and Ainsty.
“After 13 years of Conservative mismanagement and a crashed economy, people are asking themselves whether they or their family are better off under the Tories. The answer is no.
“That’s why my number one priority will be to support local residents in the cost-of-living crisis.
“My plan for Selby and Ainsty will tackle antisocial behaviour and rural crime, make our local NHS fit for the future, protect our communities from flooding and sewage, and restore frequent, reliable public transport.
“This brilliant constituency deserves a fresh start and a dedicated MP who will deliver on their promises to local people.
“After many years of the same, it’s time for a change, with a Labour MP and a Labour government to build a better future.”
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