LABOUR have won the Blackpool South parliamentary by-election and made gains in council contests to heap pressure on Rishi Sunak.

In the contest triggered by the resignation of former Tory MP Scott Benton following a lobbying scandal, Labour’s Chris Webb secured 10,825 votes, a majority of 7607.

Tory David Jones came in second with 3218 votes, just 117 ahead of Reform UK’s Mark Butcher.

Webb said: “People no longer trust the Conservatives. Prime Minister, do the decent thing, admit you’ve failed and call a General Election.”

The 26.33% swing was the third biggest from the Conservatives to Labour at a by-election since the Second World War.

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Labour leader Keir Starmer said: “This seismic win in Blackpool South is the most important result today.

“This is the one contest where voters had the chance to send a message to Rishi Sunak’s Conservatives directly, and that message is an overwhelming vote for change.

“The swing towards the Labour Party in Blackpool South is truly historic and shows that we are firmly back in the service of working people.”

Tory deputy chair Angela Richardson told the BBC: “The result was not unexpected. I think, given the circumstances that caused the by-election in the first place, it was always going to be difficult for the Conservatives.”

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Elections expert Professor John Curtice said: “The only thing that’s stopped this result from being basically an unmitigated disaster for the Conservatives was the fact they just narrowly squeaked ahead of Reform.”

He added: “Basically the project that Rishi Sunak is meant to be there to achieve, which is to narrow the gap on Labour, that project still has yet to provide any visible benefit.”

The Tories were also facing losses in council elections across England, after votes took place in 107 authorities.

Most of the council seats up for re-election in England were last contested in 2021, at the peak of Boris Johnson’s popularity as the Covid-19 vaccine was rolled out.