Labour drop to fifth in Henley

A big by-election win for the Tories
A big by-election win for the Tories

Labour have dropped to fifth place in the Henley by-election, with the Tories safely retaining Boris Johnson's old seat.

The result will leave an indelible mark on Gordon Brown's first anniversary in power. Labour polled beneath the BNP and the Greens and their candidate lost his deposit with only 1,066 votes.

John Howell, the local Tory candidate, won with a majority of 10,116, taking 19,796 votes to Lib Dem candidate Stephen Kearney's 9,680.

Boris Johnson stood down from his seat after being elected to City Hall, resigning from Westminster to focus his attention on being the mayor of London.

The resulting by-election pit Mr Howell, his chosen successor by the local Tories, against Richard McKenzie of Labour and the Liberal Democrats' Stephen Kearney.

And after last month's humiliating Crewe and Nantwich by-election defeat for Labour, Conservative strategists were hoping another electoral test would maintain the opposition party's momentum.

Media coverage of the campaign in Henley was largely been overshadowed by the resignation of former shadow home secretary David Davis, who quit the Commons to fight a single-issue by-election in Haltemprice and Howden on pre-charge detention.

Despite this, Henley has not been completely overlooked. Mr Howell accused the Lib Dems of "fighting dirty" after questions arose over his involvement in a campaign to save the local Townlands hospital.

Speaking this morning, Conservative leader David Cameron described the result as "excellent" and "very good".

He added that Richard McKenzie's fifth place was a "disastrous result for the Labour Party".

Mr Cameron said there was still a lot of work to be done and there would be no complacency by the Tories.


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