Chester by-election: Labour’s Samantha Dixon wins seat with 11,000 vote majority over Tories

Samantha Dixon comfortably defeated the Conservatives in the party’s first electoral test since the ousting of their two former leaders

Labour has comfortably won the Chester by-election in the first public vote since Boris Johnson and Liz Truss were ousted from Number 10.

Local councillor Samantha Dixon retained the seat for Labour with a 10,974 vote majority, delivering a bruising defeat to Rishi Sunak in his first electoral test as Prime Minister.

The contest was triggered by the resignation of Labour MP Christian Matheson, who resigned his Commons seat following complaints of “serious sexual misconduct” were upheld by a parliamentary watchdog. Matheson, who denied the allegations, was facing a four-week suspension and was asked to resign by Labour before he quit.

Dixon won 17,309 votes in total - a 61% share and almost 11,000 more than Conservative Candidate and NHS nurse Liz Wardlaw who got 6,335 votes, or 22.40%. Election officials confirmed that turnout was 41.2%, with a total of 28,541 votes cast in the December poll.

Labour was widely expected to hold the seat, having won it in 2019 for the third time in a row, but the margin was much bigger than three years ago when the gap was 6,614 votes. It represents a 13.8% swing from Tory to Labour, the sixth biggest between the parties since 1945, and more than the 12.7% in Wakefield in June.

The party hailed the result as one that sent a “clear message” to Sunak and his new administration.

Samantha Dixon comfortably defeated the Conservatives in the Chester by-election (Photo: Getty Images)

In a victory speech after the result, Dixon said: “People in Chester and across our country are really worried. Worried about losing their homes because they can’t afford the mortgage repayments or the rent, worried about whether they can put the heating on, worried about whether they can put food on the table for their families.

“This is the cost of 12 years of Conservative government. The government, which has wreaked havoc with our economy, destroyed our public services and betrayed the people who put their trust in them at the last general election.”

‘People are fed up of Tory rule’

Dixon said after the vote result was announced that she believes many people across the country felt the same as voters in Chester. She told reporters: “It’s just that here people have had an opportunity to express how they feel.”

Shadow work and pensions minister Alison McGovern agreed and said the decisive victory is a sign that the public is “fed up of Tory rule”. The Wirral South MP said: “The people of Chester have sent a clear message to Rishi Sunak’s Conservative government: They are fed up of Tory rule and want the change Labour offers.

“After the Tories crashed our economy, it’s clear that only Labour can be trusted to help families across the country make ends meet. Sam will be an excellent MP for Chester and a strong voice for Chester residents in the Conservative cost-of-living crisis.”

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner is expected to visit Chester on Friday (2 December) to celebrate the result with the new MP, who will now take up her seat two years out from the next general election.

The result is the latest by-election defeat suffered by the Conservatives. The last two by-elections, which took place on the same day in June, were a disaster for the Tories, with Labour snatching Wakefield and the Liberal Democrats securing a historic victory in Tiverton and Honiton.

The result, which comes just over a month into Sunak’s tenure as Prime Minister, is unlikely to be seen as a referendum on his leadership, but it still comes as a blow to the party which is facing an uphill battle to remain in office at the next nationwide poll.

The country is facing a gloomy outlook, after Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s autumn statement last month ushered in a fresh round of belt-tightening in the public finances as the UK heads into a recession and soaring inflation squeezes incomes.

Many households across the UK are struggling with rising energy bills, rail strikes and a planned walk-out by nurses also threatens to cause severe disruption in the run up to Christmas.