Major parties will not contest Jo Cox’s seat

Jo Cox, late MP for Batley and Spen.
Jo Cox, late MP for Batley and Spen.
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THE CONSERVATIVE Party will not contest the seat of murdered MP Jo Cox who represented Batley and Spen for the Labour Party.

The Lib Dems and Greens have also said they will not nominate a candidate, casting doubt on whether a by-election will go ahead.

Conservative spokesperson said: “Following the tragic killing of Labour MP Jo Cox, the Conservative Party has decided not to contest the forthcoming by-election as a mark of respect to a much-loved and respected politician.”

Sal Brinton, President of the Liberal Democrats, has said: “The Liberal Democrats will not contest the forthcoming Batley and Spen by-election as a mark of respect.

“Tim Farron, myself and the whole Liberal Democrat Party pass our sincere condolences to Brendan, their family and the wider Labour movement. Hate and fear will never win.

“An outstanding champion for the vulnerable and the dispossessed, who represented her community brilliantly, was taken from us all.”

Typically a by-election involves interested parties notifying the local returning officer of their intention to run by a fixed date. If the officer receives more than two nominations then a by-election will be called.

If no-one stands then Labour will carry on representing the seat.

The widespread decision not to contest Mrs Cox’s seat is in sharp contrast to the Eastbourne by-election which followed the death of Conservative Ian Gow, who was murdered by the IRA in 1990.

His seat in the House of Commons was won by the Liberal Democrat David Bellotti.

Leader of the Green Party, Natalie Bennett said their party’s leadership believes that out of respect for Jo Cox they should not stand in a by-election.

She Tweeted: “Democratic decision by local party soon.”

A UKIP spokesperson said they had not even begun to think about a potential by-election. Their focus on Friday was sending flowers from their local branch to Birstall, where Mrs Cox was shot.

She said: “It has not even crossed our mind. It is far too soon to even think about a by-election.”

Mrs Cox held the seat for just over a year after she was elected last year with a majority of 6,057 votes after Labour’s Mike Wood stood down.

The constituency has been held by Labour since 1997, but was previously a Conservative seat since its creation in 1983.

In 2015 the Conservatives, UKIP, Liberal Democrats, Green, the Trade Union Socialist Coalition and the Patriotic Socialists fielded candidates against Mrs Cox.