Tracy Brabin becomes first mayor of West Yorkshire - and first woman to hold metro mayor job

Tracy Brabin has become the first metro mayor of West Yorkshire in a “historic” moment giving Labour a hat-trick across the M62.

Tracy Brabin at the count. Photo: JPI Media
Tracy Brabin at the count. Photo: JPI Media

Labour’s Ms Brabin beat Conservative Matt Robinson in the second round of counting having missed out on 50 per cent of the first preference votes.

But speaking after the second preferences were taken into account and becoming the first directly-elected woman to take up one of the coveted roles, she said: “Politics is better when women are around the top table.”

Mr Robinson left the count at Leeds Arena straight after the results were announced and did not take the opportunity to speak to The Yorkshire Post.

Ms Brabin was the favourite from the beginning but the race was closer than expected with Mr Robinson winning 176,167 first preference votes (28.52 per cent) to Ms Brabin’s 261,170 (42.3 per cent).

In the second preferences, Ms Brabin got 49,753 votes (to make a total of 310,923) and Mr Robinson 32,970 (to make a total of 209,137).

In a coup for The Yorkshire Party, their candidate Dr Bob Buxton came third in the first preferences with 58,851 votes, to beat both the Green Party and Liberal Democrats, as well as Reform UK and English Democrats.

Dr Buxton said: "It's a strong message to Westminster, more established parties haven't got as many votes as we have, we're ahead of the Greens, we're ahead of the Liberals, it's a very strong vote. People are saying they want real power, they want real devolution, and a fair share of funding. Stop cancelling our transport projects and start funding them."

Ms Brabin, who also celebrated her 60th birthday today, said: “I never imagined I would be elected the Member of Parliament for my home town, let alone be asked to serve as the first ever metro mayor of West Yorkshire The first ever woman metro mayor in the country.”

The result will trigger a by-election in Ms Brabin’s Batley and Spen seat, as due to the police and crime commissioner role being absorbed into the West Yorkshire mayoral job she is not able to do both unlike her counterpart Dan Jarvis in South Yorkshire.

Henri Murison, director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, said: “This is a historic moment. West Yorkshire has elected its first mayor - a woman - and this is a milestone achievement in terms of both representation and the wider devolution agenda.

"Tracy's election concludes a Labour mayoral hat-trick across the M62 in these elections - but if the party wants to extend its support across the North, it should appoint its own visible lead for economic rebalancing in the reshuffle, before the government moves forward further on Levelling Up.

“Four years after the first mayoral elections, across the North turnout is up and voters are starting to see the value in empowered local leaders, answerable to the communities that elect them.

“Mayors like Andy Burnham, Steve Rotherham and Ben Houchen are now household names, they’ve become true champions for their city regions and it’s paid off massively at these elections. Voters trust them to lead a recovery - now we need government to respect their mandates.”

While TUC Yorkshire Regional Secretary Bill Adams said: “The new mayor can offer a fresh start for West Yorkshire, and a chance to bring decisions about our future closer to home.

“After a decade of failed austerity imposed from Whitehall, we now have a mayor who can be a champion for our region and a powerful voice for change.

“We look forward to the mayor making good on her pledge last week to begin the statutory investigation into public control of our buses within her first 100 days.

“We stand ready to work with the mayor on investing in a transformative mass transit project and other green industries, initiating major job creation schemes, and reversing the government’s damaging cuts to the Union Learning Fund by starting a home grown workplace skills and education project for West Yorkshire.

“As the economic fallout from Covid continues, working people need to stand together in their unions – and get ready to fight to protect our livelihoods and our communities. We urge everyone at work to join a trade union today.”