Analysis: Why Ukip problem just got worse for Yorkshire’s Labour MPs

Paul Nuttall's election as Ukip leader today could be a major boost for its Yorkshire fortunes

Paul Nuttall's election as Ukip leader today could be a major boost for its Yorkshire fortunes

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Across Yorkshire and the rest of the North of England, Labour MPs are shaking their heads at the election of Paul Nuttall. Their Ukip problem just got worse.

Ukip came second in 15 Yorkshire constituencies in last year’s General Election. In all but one of those 15, they were the main challengers in seats that elected Labour MPs.

And it is not just where Ukip is the nearest challenger that the party causes problems for Labour in Yorkshire.

In a string of key West Yorkshire marginals where Labour needed to win to have a hope of taking power, Ukip polled strong third places.

Labour’s number one target seat in Yorkshire last year, Pudsey, was held by the Conservatives with a majority of 4,501 over Labour. The third-placed Ukip candidate secured 4,689 votes.

All this following Ukip’s success in the 2014 European elections, taking three out of the region’s six seats.

In the wake of the Brexit vote, Yorkshire Labour MPs have been at the forefront of calls for leader Jeremy Corbyn to change his language on a range of issues, including immigration, to try and stop the party losing support to Ukip.

Already enjoying success under a privately-educated former commodities trader, Ukip’s appeal to traditional Labour voters in the North can only be helped further by the scouse accented, state educated Mr Nuttall.

With Ukip plagued by divisions and questions over funding, the road ahead is not a smooth one for Mr Nuttall.

But a 2020 election where Brexit has yet to be delivered and with Labour hesitant on immigration, could be fruitful for Ukip.

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