Old Bexley and Sidcup by-election: results explained, voter turnout, and who is Conservative MP Louie French?

French paid tribute to former MP, James Brokenshire, whose death in October triggered the by-election

Voters in the Old Bexley and Sidcup constituency have elected Conservative Louie French as their next MP, although the party’s majority has been slashed considerably.

The Conservatives were expected to hold the seat, which was previously held by former PM Edward ‘Ted’ Heath and has been considered one of the party’s safest constituencies.

What were the by-election results?

Conservative councillor Louie French will be the next MP for Old Bexley and Sidcup, having won 51.5% of the vote with a majority of 21%, down by half.

Labour’s Daniel Francis was the closest challenger, receiving 31% of the vote and increasing Labour’s vote share by 7%.

There were 11 candidates standing in the by-election, representing parties including the Monster Raving Loony party, UKIP, Rejoin EU and the Heritage Party, led by former UKIP leadership candidate David Kurten.

Louie French - Conservative - 11,189 (51.5%)

Daniel Francis - Labour - 6,711 (30.9%)

Richard Tice - Reform UK - 1,432 (6.6%)

Jonathan Rooks - Green Party - 830 (3.8%)

Simone Reynolds - Liberal Democrats 647 (3%)

Elaine Cheeseman - English Democrat - 271 (1.3%)

John Poynton - UKIP - 184 (0.8%)

Richard Hewison - Rejoin EU - 151 (0.7%)

David Kurten - Heritage - 116 - (0.5%)

Carol Valinejad - Christian People’s Alliance - 108 (0.5%)

Monster Raving Loony - Mad Mike Young - 94 (0.4%)

Turnout was particularly low for the by-election, at 33.5%, down more than a third on the 2019 general election.

Why was there a by-election in Old Bexley and Sidcup?

The by-election will take place following the death of former cabinet minister James Brokenshire aged 53 earlier this year.

Brokenshire, who died from Lung Cancer in October, was considered a popular local MP and increased his vote share in the seat at the last two elections.

Boris Johnson said on Twitter: “He served with particular distinction in the Home Office and as Security Minister. If the government needed something done well and speedily – and sensibly explained – James was the man to do it.

“I worked with him for many years in London and I know how much he cared for the interests of his Bexley constituents.

“His fight against cancer was heroic, and it is a measure of his resolve that he came back from a first bout with the disease to serve in government again. He will be missed by all who knew him. Our thoughts are with Cathy and his family.”

Paying tribute to him at the time of his death, former prime minister David Cameron said Mr Brokenshire had been a “hard-working and dedicated MP but, more than that, he was a thoroughly decent and lovely man, and devoted to his family”.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak wrote on Twitter: “James Brokenshire was a man of public service and the highest integrity. He was a valued friend and colleague and will be deeply missed.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer Tweeted: “James Brokenshire was a thoroughly decent man, dedicated and effective in all briefs he held.

“He fought his illness with dignity and bravery. I’m incredibly sad to learn of his death and send my condolences to his wife and children.”

When is the next by-election?

After the Old Bexley and Sidcup contest, the next by-election to take place will be in North Shropshire, the seat formerly held by Conservative Owen Paterson who resigned in the wake of a lobbying scandal last month.

The vote will take place on Thursday 16 December.

Like Old Bexley and Sidcup, North Shropshire is something of a safe Conservative seat, but it is thought to be much more vulnerable in the upcoming by-election.

In part this is because the Conservative majority is not as large in North Shropshire, although the circumstances in which the by-election has come about are also much less favourable for the Tories.