They don’t learn! Labour by-election candidate in Brexit heartlands admits being Remainer

Jo Cox's sister Kim Leadbeater named Labour candidate

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Kim Leadbeater was selected to represent the party in the upcoming election despite the area voting to leave the EU. The Kirklees region, which falls within Batley and Spen, voted by 55 percent for Brexit five years ago.

Ms Leadbeater is the sister of Jo Cox who represented the Yorkshire seat until she was tragically murdered just weeks before the 2016 referendum.

Labour is hoping the close family connection to the former MP will help boost their standing in the area despite the Batley and Spent being a Leave-backing constituency.

The party’s candidate admitted she voted to remain in the single market as she claimed people wanted to move on from the divide of Brexit.

“I had lots of family and friends who voted Leave, and I had lots of family and friends who voted Remain, which I think really reflected where the country was.

“And indeed that’s what the statistics proved in the end,” she told the Yorkshire Post.

“For me, I fell just on the side of Remain because I was worried about the economic fallout from Brexit.

“But ultimately, it was a tough decision, and I respect however anybody voted in the referendum, that was their choice.

“And what you can’t do is give people a choice, and then say they got it wrong or take it away from them, we have to move forward now.

“But what I would be really clear to do as the MP would be holding the government to account on the opportunities that we are told Brexit is going to give us in Batley and Spen, and if it’s not happening, I want to know why it’s not happening and I want to know what we can do about it.

“So I think generally with Brexit, let’s move on, but let’s try and maximise opportunities that we’ve now got.”

It is the second time in a row Labour has picked a Remainer to represent them in a by-election in a Brexit-backing part of the country.

Last month the party was crushed when Hartlepool elected a Conservative MP for the first time in over 50 years.

Sir Keir Starmer selected Dr Paul Williams, an ex-MP and ardent advocate for a “People’s Vote”, as the Labour candidate.

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It was only the second time in almost 40 years the Opposition had lost a by-election seat to the governing party.

The crushing loss followed the trend started in 2019 which saw traditionally Labour heartlands abandon the party to back Boris Johnson’s pledge to “get Brexit done”.

Pressure was heaped on Sir Keir’s leadership following the catastrophic result with calls for him to change course or face a challenge for the top job.

The Batley and Spen by-election is being touted as a final chance to revive his flailing leadership.

Voters will go to the ballot box on July 1.

The by-election was called after the incumbent MP, Tracy Brabin, was elected as West Yorkshire Mayor.

She was forced to stand down as an MP upon election as the Mayor is also the region’s police and crime commissioner.

By law, an MP is not allowed to hold the important role in upholding law and order while also making political decisions in the Commons.

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