BORIS Johnson’s refusal to sack Matt Hancock after The Sun’s bombshell expose cost the Tories the the Batley and Spen by-election, a Cabinet minister said today.
Sir Keir Starmer scraped a victory with Jo Cox’s sister Kim Leadbeater in West Yorkshire last night – by just 300 votes.
Keir Starmer and Kim Leadbeater celebrating their win in Batley and Spen this morning[/caption]
Boris was accused of helping let them win by refusing to sack Hancock last week[/caption]
But top Tories admitted the handling of the Health Sec’s breaking of social distancing rules and affair with his aide was an issue in their loss.
Tory party chairman Amanda Milling admitted the former health sec’s steamy affair was a doorstep talker.
She told Times Radio: “A whole range of issues came up on the doorstep. But you know, I’ve got to be honest, it did come up at the weekend.”
Tory Peer Lord Hayward warned: “With a small majority this might have influenced the result.”
One senior minister told The Sun: “This is a reminder of the metropolitan elite vs real people.
“Boris forgets that at his peril.”
Another Tory activist on the ground in Batley said Mr Hancock has been a “huge issue” and the team “breathed a massive sigh of relief” after he finally quit.
Boris didn’t sack Matt Hancock after The Sun’s expose[/caption]
Instead he resigned on Saturday night after it became clear he didn’t have the support of MPs[/caption]
But they feared the “damage had already been done”.
The PM did not sack Mr Hancock after The Sun’s story was revealed on Friday morning, and No10 insisted he had “full confidence” in him and considers “the matter closed.”
Tories had played down their chances of winning last night, insisting the result was going to be “very tight” and they usually didn’t win by-elections when in office.
But the PM made multiple trips up there and insiders were hopeful they maybe able to take the seat.
- Sir Keir Starmer’s leadership looked safe for now as rivals backed off from plotting an immediate challenge to get rid of him
- Ex-Labour spinner Peter Mandelson said Corbynite lefties were “eager” for Labour to lose and try and generate a challenge to Sir Keir Starmer, accusing them of “conspiring”
- Jo Cox’s widow Brendan congratulated his sister-in-law for winning the seat
Meanwhile the hard left were humiliated after suggesting Labour were doomed because newbie MP Kim had sat down with The Sun.
Leadbeater said in an interview that her sister “would want me to crack on with life and embrace it with all my heart”.
A number of left-wing Corbynite MPs complained about the interview in a parliamentary Labour Party meeting on Monday, CityAM reported.
Some even said the interview would cost Labour the by-election in the Yorkshire constituency, and pointed the figure at the candidate for agreeing to it.
After last night’s win, the leftie boss appears safe for now from a fresh plot to oust him, and ex-spinner Peter Mandelson weighed in to tell them to zip it.
Sir Keir told reporters this morning in Batley: “Labour is back, Labour is coming home.”
In a speech to activists and supporters to celebrate the win he claimed the 300-vote win had filled everybody’s hearts with hope, that actually those values those core Labour values can win out”.
He insisted that “former Tory voters voted for her” despite the Tory share of the vote actually increasing.
He added: “The Labour vote was split but we won. The Tories had a clean hit nobody was going against them. They expected to win this, make no mistake about that.”
He said his message to anyone plotting a fresh challenge against him is: “When the Labour Party sticks to its core values, is rooted in its communities and pulls together, we can win just as we have won here.”
And of the Hancock saga and the PM’s refusal to sack him, he said: “I don’t think that it played a huge part.”
One Tory source said this morning Labour wouldn’t have won without the support of Kim Leadbeater, who was well known in the community.
They added: “Keir didn’t win this, he’s not vindicated.”
This morning Corbyn-ally Diane Abbott refused to say she had confidence in Sir Keir and demanded he look back to the failed policies from 2019 instead to rake up votes.
Labour celebrating their win today – with Keir saying ‘Labour is back’[/caption]
Keir said Kim had hoovered up votes from former Tories[/caption]
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