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Labour win in by-election 'proof people are now sick of austerity'

By Adam Hale

Labour's victor in the Newport West by-election said the result showed people were sick of austerity.

The battle for the Commons seat saw turnout slump, with Labour's Ruth Jones taking 9,308 votes, giving her a majority of 1,951 over the Tories.

Ukip's Neil Hamilton took third place with 2,023 votes, as the party saw support increase from its showing at the 2017 general election.

The contest was triggered by the death of veteran Labour MP Paul Flynn.

Mrs Jones paid tribute to her predecessor, saying: "This by-election has taken place because of the sad passing of Paul Flynn, our friend.

"There have been many tributes to him over the weeks, but one saying stood out to me: 'Everyone knew someone helped by Paul Flynn'. These words have been an inspiration to me during this campaign."

Mrs Jones added: "Who knows what the next few days, weeks and months will bring? But what I do know is that people have had enough after a decade of austerity."

The city has long been a Labour stronghold and voted Leave by a margin of 56% to 44%.

Mrs Jones had been the clear favourite to succeed Mr Flynn, who held the Newport West seat for 32 years, winning with a majority of 5,658 and more than half the vote in 2017.

Voter turnout was 37.1%, down from 67.5% in the 2017 general election, with parties blaming poor weather including rain and hail on Thursday.

Mrs Jones, who campaigned for Remain in the EU referendum, said the country should not accept a "damaging Tory Brexit" or a no-deal outcome.

Speaking of voters' feelings on the issue, she said: "The general consensus was that Brexit had become a cloud that was on top of people and it seemed to be stopping the main issues getting up to Parliament, so the people of Newport West feel their voices are not being heard at the moment."

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