Labour narrowly denies Brexit Party its first seat in parliament

Britain’s opposition Labour Party narrowly held on to a parliamentary seat in eastern England on Friday, seeing off a challenge from Nigel Farage’s insurgent Brexit Party to win by fewer than 700 votes, writes Chris Radburn.

The victory could ease pressure for now on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to throw his unequivocal support behind a second Brexit referendum, which many in his party have been saying was the only way to break an impasse over Britain’s departure.

But for the governing Conservatives, the fierce challenge by the Brexit Party, which only launched in April, will encourage contenders hoping to replace Prime Minister Theresa May to stick to a tough message on Britain’s exit from the European Union.

The election is yet more evidence that Britain’s 2016 vote to leave the EU is reshaping the country’s politics, challenging the dominance of the two main parties as loyalties split over Brexit, the biggest shift in foreign policy since World War Two.

Labour hailed a slim victory by Lisa Forbes (pictured), who won 10,484 votes, beating the bookmakers’ favourite, the Brexit Party, into second with 9,801 votes. May’s Conservatives came third with 7,243 votes.