Theresa May has described the Conservative by-election win as an “astounding” victory that shows her government “is working for everyone”.
Labour had held the Cumbria seat for 80 years before being beaten by the Tory candidate Trudy Harrison in the first by-election gain for a sitting government in 35 years.
Harrison got 44.3% of the vote, and overturned a Labour majority of more than 2,564 to take the seat by 2,147 – a swing of more than 6%.
In her victory speech, Harrison said:
“It’s been very clear talking to people throughout this campaign that Jeremy Corbyn doesn’t represent them.”
Speaking in Millom, May told supporters:
“What we’ve seen from this victory is this truly is a government that’s working for everyone and every part of the country – and that’s the message that we bring here to Copeland and we’ll take across the country.”
However, a number of commentators and at least one Labour MP have blamed the Labour loss on embattled leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Copeland is home to the Sellafield nuclear power plant, and much was made of Jeremy Corbyn’s anti-nuclear stance throughout the campaign.
Corbyn insists he will stay on as leader despite the Copeland loss, and instead chose to focus on Labour fighting off a challenge from Ukip leader Paul Nuttall in a separate by-election in Stoke Central. He admitted that Labour’s message was not enough to win in Copeland, but called his party’s victory in Stoke a “decisive rejection of UKIP’s politics of division and dishonesty”.