Voting has started in the Southend West by-election to select a successor to Sir David Amess, who was fatally stabbed during a constituency surgery last year.
The Conservative MP was attacked at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex on 15 October.
The 69-year-old, who secured an increased majority of 14,459 in the 2019 general election, had served Southend West since 1997, and Basildon before that since 1983.
So, who is in the running to take over from David Amess and what are the odds?
Who are the new candidates?
The candidates standing in the by-election are:
– Freedom Alliance. The Real Alternative: Christopher Anderson
– English Democrats – “Protect Our Borders”: Catherine Blaiklock
– No Description: Olga Childs
– Heritage Party: Ben Downton
– Conservative Party: Anna Firth
– Independent: Jayda Fransen
– UK Independence Party: Steve Laws
– English Constitution Party, Freedom: Graham Moore
– Psychedelic Movement: Jason Pilley
When can we expect a result?
Polling stations opened at 7am on 3 February and will close tonight at 10pm.
The result is expected at 2pm on 4 February - with nine candidates in the running.
There’s as many as 37 polling stations have been set up in schools, church halls and other venues across the constituency.
The deadline for registering to vote for this election was 18 January, 2022 with the deadline for registering to vote via post on 19 January.
It means if you haven’t already registered to vote - unfortunatley you can’t cast your ballot paper.
What are the latest odds?
Southend West has been held by the Conservatives since its creation in 1950 - with David Amess elected as its MP for 25 years.
The Conservatives have now selected barrister Anna Firth as their candidate to succeed Sir David.
It’s thought the Tory party will win back this seat as it remains largely unchallenged.
Out of a mark of respect, Labour and the Liberal Democrats will not stand candidates in Thursday’s by-election contest.
This is a precedent that was set when Labour MP Jo Cox was murdered in 2016.
Alex Apati of Ladbrokes said: “We’re expecting a turnout of around 20-30% for today’s by-election, with the latest odds suggest the Tories will boast a vote share somewhere around the 75% mark.”
The bookmaker has cast its predictions for the Tory vote share to be over 80% - 3/1, between 70-80% 2/1 and between 60-70% - 11/2.
What’s the latest on the court case?
Ali Harbi Ali is accused of murdering Sir David Amess.
The 25-year-old is also charged with preparing acts of terrorism between 1 May, 2019 and 28 September last year.
Ali denied the charges at a hearing at the Old Bailey in December and faces a trial later this year.
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