Tory woe as Labour sails to victory in West Lancashire by-election

Tories on track to win just 138 MPs at next general election after Labour sails to victory in West Lancashire by-election… while poll suggests public prefers Boris Johnson to Rishi Sunak

  • Charity worker Ashley Dalton won West Lancashire by-election with 62% of vote
  • Result will increase pressure on Rishi Sunak to turn around Tories’ fortunes 

Tories are digesting more grim signs today after Labour coasted to victory in the West Lancashire by-election.

Charity worker Ashley Dalton secured the seat – up for grabs after Labour incumbent Rosie Cooper quit for an NHS role – with a majority of over 8,000.

Although Keir Starmer’s party had been expected to record a comfortable victory and turnout was low amid icy conditions, the dismal showing by the Conservatives will set alarm bells ringing.

It was the worst Tory performance in West Lancs since the constituency was created in 1983, with a 10 per cent swing to Labour. Pollsters said the result was in line with models predicting Sir Keir would have 424 MPs if a general election was held now, compared to just 138 for the Conservatives. 

The figures could increase pressure on Rishi Sunak to find a way of reviving the government’s fortunes quickly, amid evidence that Boris Johnson’s allies are on manoeuvres. They will be encouraged by a People Polling survey today finding Mr Johnson is regarded as having been a better PM than Mr Sunak. 

Labour’s Ashley Dalton celebrates after being declared the winner in the West Lancashire by-election at Burscough Racquet and Fitness Centre in Ormskirk, Lancashire

Ms Dalton, who works part-time for a local charity, received more than 14,000 votes as Rishi Sunak ‘s Tories failed to make inroads

The result in West Lancs could increase pressure on Rishi Sunak to find a way of reviving the government’s fortunes quickly

The by-election was triggered after Labour MP Rosie Cooper, who represented the constituency for 17 years, accepted the role of chairwoman of the Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust.

The Conservatives came second at the last election, polling just over 19,000 votes, with the Liberal Democrats in third.

The seat has been held by Labour for the last 31 years, after the party took it from the Conservatives in 1992. 

It was the latest by-election test for Mr Sunak since entering Downing Street last October and comes amid a cost-of-living crisis, soaring inflation and a wave of industrial action across the UK.

The Britain Predicts project, which works with the New Statesman, said the results were in line with its model that currently shows a general election would deliver 424 Labour MPs, 138 Tories, 22 Lib Dems and 66 for other parties. 

That is equivalent to a majority of around 200, more than Tony Blair’s 1997 landslide.

Although almost everyone at Westminster expects the polls to narrow closer to an election – likely 18 months away – Tories acknowledge they have a mountain to climb. 

New Tory chairman Greg Hands, who replaced the sacked Nadhim Zahawi this week, has been charged with steering his party towards the local elections in May.

People Polling research for GB News asked voters who had been the best PM since 2019.

More than a quarter opted for Mr Johnson, while just 15 per cent said Mr Sunak and 2 per cent Liz Truss. Most – 57 per cent – either preferred not to say or did not know.

The findings were more stark among Tory supporters, with 52 per cent saying Mr Johnson and 18 per cent Mr Sunak. 

National polls have been consistently showing the Labour lead at over 20 points  

Labour MP Rosie Cooper announced her resignation as an MP in late 2022 to pursue her career in the NHS

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