Blackpool South by-election: Sir Keir Starmer hails 'seismic win' as Labour takes seat from Conservatives

Labour has won the Blackpool South by-election from the Conservatives in yet another blow for Rishi Sunak's leadership.

The party's candidate, Chris Webb, received 10,825 votes after Thursday's contest - a 58.9% vote share - with the Tories trailing far behind with just 3,218.

Reform UK were hot on their heels, getting 3,101 votes, while the Liberal Democrats gained 387 votes and the Green Party won 368.

Follow live: Local elections results as they come in

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer called it a "seismic" victory for his party and "the most important" amid a raft of local election results.

He added: "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."

Speaking to Sky News after his win was announced, Mr Webb said his priority in parliament would be the cost of living crisis, as it had "damaged so many people here in Blackpool South [and] people are struggling to make ends meet".

The Commons' newest MP said people were "fed up" and "want change", adding: "Life-long Conservatives voted for me in this election and Labour because they want that change.

"So many people are crying out for a Labour government, Rishi Sunak need to admit he's failed and call a general election."

Blackpool South becomes the seventh seat the Conservative Party has lost to the Labour Party in this parliament - although the Tories won Hartlepool off Labour 2021.

The by-election was called after the former Conservative MP Scott Benton - who won the seat in 2019 with a slimmer majority of 3,690 - was caught in a sting by the Times newspaper, suggesting he was willing to break lobbying rules for money.

As a result, he was suspended from the Commons for 35 days, meaning he was subject to a recall petition in his constituency.

But instead of facing removal from his seat, Mr Benton resigned from parliament, triggering a vote for a new MP.

In an added painful twist for the Tories, the candidate standing to replace him, David Jones, was revealed as the chairman of the Fylde Conservatives - the area represented by the latest scandal hit MP Mark Menzies.

Mr Menzies hit the headlines after claims he misused campaign funds - including by calling a member of the local association to say he was locked in a flat by "bad people" and needed £5,000 as a matter of "life and death".

Mr Jones denied he knew anything about the incident - which was allegedly reported to the Conservative Party three months ago - until it was revealed in the media.

The by-election took place alongside local elections around England and Wales.

As results begin to roll in, Labour took control of a number of local authorities where voters overwhelmingly backed Brexit in the 2016 referendum.

However, there are hundreds of seats still to be declared, along with 10 mayoralties and 37 police and crime commissioners, in the coming hours and days.

Follow our live coverage of the election results throughout the weekend - find the full details here.