UKIP leader Paul Nuttall to contest Stoke-on-Trent Central by-election

Tracy FergusonJan 24, 2017

Nuttall emerged triumphant after hustings alongside other shortlisted candidates on Friday night, setting the scene for a contest that will illuminate the shape of post-Brexit politics in England.

Mr Nuttall has previously called Stoke the "capital of Brexit" as the town had the highest proportion of Leave voters in the country.

Mr Nuttall is seeking to take control of what was Tristram Hunt's seat - the former Labour MP has departed to become director of the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Paul Nuttall Ukip leader Stoke Central Farage
GETTYMr Nuttall is hoping to step out of Nigel Farage's shadow

Within Ukip, the byelection presents a test of electoral support for a 40-year-old seeking to escape the shadow of Nigel Farage. Labour has held the constituency since its creation in 1950.

However, 69% of people in Stoke-on-Trent voted to leave the European Union in the referendum in June.

Stoke Central has been held by Labour since its creation in 1950 but its majority has been falling fast since a general election in 1997 and Nuttall has vowed to target Labour voters in the February 23 election.

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Following Nuttall's confirmation as a contender, he tweeted: "I am proud to be selected as the UKIP candidate for the Stoke on Trent central by-election".

The vote is being held on the same day as a by-election in the northern seat of Copeland, triggered by the resignation of another Labour lawmaker, Jamie Reed, who had a 2015 majority of just 2,500 over the ruling Conservatives.

The seat is traditionally a safe Labour one, but it will be a significant battle for the party as its majority has fallen in recent polls.

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Nuttall will hope he can achieve something that Farage never managed in seven attempts, to win a parliamentary seat and in doing so become Ukip's second Westminster MP.

Local activists chose a former doctor, Gillian Troughton, who backed the failed leadership challenger Owen Smith last summer, which will be seen as a victory for Labour moderates.

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