Old Bexley and Sidcup by-election: Conservatives win seaton December 3, 2021 at 2:47 am

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The south-east London by-election was prompted by the death of former MP James Brokenshire.

Conservative party candidate Louie French at Christchurch Church Hall in Sidcup, Kent.

Image source, PA Media

The Conservatives have held on to their safe south-east London seat of Old Bexley and Sidcup following a by-election.

The election was prompted by the death of former MP James Brokenshire, who died from cancer aged 53 in October.

Local Conservative councillor Louie French won, taking over half the votes.

Mr French paid tribute to his “good friend” Mr Brokenshire, adding: “This has been a tough contest, which has been fought with dignity and respect.”

The voter turnout was low at 34% – although by-election votes are historically lower than general election turnout. In 2019, during the general election, the voter turnout was 69.8%.

It meant the Tories’ majority has been cut from nearly 19,000 to 4,478.

In his acceptance speech, Mr French said he will “work tirelessly to repay the trust that you’ve placed in me and I will not let you down”.

“My focus will now be delivering on those promises that I made during the campaign – get our fair share of London’s police officers, securing more investment for local schools and hospitals, protecting our precious green spaces.”

He added: “This is the greatest honour of my life. And I hope it inspires people to achieve their own dreams.”

Tory campaigners were confident that the party would hold onto Old Bexley and Sidcup.

The Tories have held the constituency since it was created and Mr Brokenshire, who had lung cancer, had held the seat for the Conservatives since 2010.

At the 2019 general election, he held the south-east London seat with a majority of almost 19,000, taking 64.5% of the vote. It has previously been held by two other Conservative MPs, including former prime minister Ted Heath.

The Conservatives won the seat with a vote share of 51.5%. Labour came second with a 30.9% vote share and Reform UK came third with 6.6%.

Labour MP Ellie Reeves said she was “pleased with the result” and seeing the majority reduced.

She added that: “This is a Conservative stronghold, somewhere that had a 19,000 majority at the last general election and what we’ve seen tonight is that majority being slashed.”

Reform UK’s leader and candidate for Old Bexley and Sidcup, Richard Tice said in a tweet that this was a “massive result” for his party. He added that they came in third, “with almost as many votes as the Lib Dems & Greens combined”.

Newly elected Tory candidate Mr French said he was the first home-grown MP for the seat.

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