Labour has launched its campaign for the Wakefield by-election, saying regaining the seat for the party “could spell the end of Boris Johnson”.
Candidate Simon Lightwood was joined at Ossett Cricket and Athletic Club by shadow levelling up, housing and communities secretary Lisa Nandy, who said the poll on June 23 could mean a “fresh start for the country”.
Mr Lightwood told supporters this was “a by-election that could not only deliver a fresh start for Wakefield but also help to shape the country’s future”.
He said: “Wakefield has the power to send a message to the Conservative Party.
“We know that the eyes of the country are upon us.
“After repeated lies and law-breaking, a defeat for the Conservatives here could spell the end of Boris Johnson.”
Wakefield was one of the so-called Red Wall seats won by the Tories in the 2019 general election after being a Labour stronghold since the 1930s.
But a by-election was called after the resignation of Conservative Imran Ahmad Khan, who won in 2019, following his conviction for sexually assaulting a boy.
Ms Nandy was asked on Wednesday whether it was crucial for Labour to win back Wakefield.
She said: “We’re not complacent, were going out and fighting for every single vote. There’s a lot at stake.
“This is a fresh start for Wakefield, who deserve an MP with integrity and decency.
“It’s also a fresh start for the country.”
Ms Nandy said: “We lost Wakefield three years ago, as well as many, many seats that had voted Labour consistently for decades. And we know we have a mountain to climb.
“We’re not complacent. We’re earning back people’s trust.”
Mr Lightwood outlined a five-point plan for Wakefield which included a pledge to deliver investment and well-paid jobs, improve bus services, tackle anti-social behaviour and scrap the recent rise in national insurance, as well as a promise that he would fight to keep a local walk-in health centre.
The Tories have selected Wakefield councillor Nadeem Ahmed to defend the 3,358 majority the party secured in 2019.
When nominations closed last week there were 15 candidates, including Mr Lightwood and Mr Ahmed.
The others are: Akef Akbar (Independent); Paul Bickerdike (Christian Peoples Alliance); Mick Dodgson (Freedom Alliance); Sir Archibald Stanton Earl ‘Eaton (Monster Raving Loony); Jayda Fransen (Independent); Jordan Gaskell (Ukip); David Herdson (Yorkshire Party); Therese Hirst (English Democrat); Christopher Jones (Northern Independence); Jamie Needle (Liberal Democrats); Ashley Routh (Green); Ashlea Simon (Britain First); Chris Walsh (Reform UK).
The Wakefield poll is being held on the same day as the Tiverton and Honiton by-election, which was called after Tory MP Neil Parish resigned over his viewing of pornography in the Commons.