The Tories Took Copeland From Labour In A Historic By-Election Win

Shadow cabinet minister Baroness Smith, elected to her post by other Labour peers rather than selected by Mr Corbyn, said Copeland was "devastating" for Labour.

Labour's image in the constituency is in need of serious rehabilitation, according to a focus group of Stoke voters organised by BritainThinks.

"Trudy Harrison, as our new MP, has a tremendous responsibility to represent the people of Copeland and fulfil the promises made in this election".

Speaking in Millom, Mrs May told supporters: "What we've seen from this victory is this truly is a government that's working for everyone and every part of the country - and that's the message that we bring here to Copeland and we'll take across the country". "Jeremy has to show he understands how to turn things around and deliver just that".

The Labour leader was vindicated in Stoke, embarrassed in Copeland.

Copeland, created in 1983, and its predecessor constituency Whitehaven have returned Labour MPs since 1935. Perhaps more strikingly for me is the fact that not only did electors feel that their jobs were safer in our hands, but also that their hard-won employment rights including pensions, would be best protected by voting Conservative.

The Conservative Trudy Harrison beat her main challenger Labour's Gillian Troughton with a majority of 2,147.

The win is the first time a government has won a seat off the opposition since Labour also lost Mitcham and Morden to the Conservatives in 1982.

'It's been very clear talking to people throughout this campaign that Jeremy Corbyn doesn't represent them, ' Harrison, 40, said in her victory speech.

Theresa May this morning finds her grip on British politics hugely strengthened.

Starkey said he believed the Labour revolt would claim further scalps in the party's heartlands if Corbyn remained in charge.

John McDonnell, a senior Labour Party politician, told the BBC following the result that Corbyn is "a different type of leader". "I don't think I'll ever vote Tory but it depends what happens with Labour, if they get their house in order and sort their policies out".

Dave Prentis, general secretary of the Unison trade union, said while the blame for a "disastrous" defeat did not lie exclusively with Mr Corbyn, he had to take responsibility for what happened next.

"To win power to rebuild and transform Britain, Labour will go further to reconnect with voters and break with the failed political consensus".

Backbench Labour MPs David Winnick and John Woodcock have both sharply criticized Corbyn for the party's performance, and suggested Labour is heading for a "catastrophic" general election defeat come 2020.

It is also a strongly pro-Brexit area, with 62 per cent voting Leave in last year's European Union referendum, so the result can be seen as an endorsement of Theresa May's strategy on Brexit.

Labour canvassers admitted before the byelection that the leader was the most common topic on the doorstep.

Len McCluskey, head of Unite, Britain's largest union, said: "In what was a mixed night for Labour, the people of Stoke should be congratulated for seeing off UKIP and their message of division and fear".

"The prime minister has set out the position very clearly on a general election", he said.

  • Leroy Wright