Interview: Labour Shadow Chancellor says it's 'neck and neck' in by-election after campaign visit to Tadcaster

Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves has said Labour has a “fighting chance” of winning the Selby and Ainsty by-election after a visit to Tadcaster in which she highlighted the cost of living – and the cost of doing business.
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Talking to the Harrogate Advertiser on the campaign trail, the MP for Leeds West admitted it would be a tough battle to reverse the 20,000-plus Tory majority in Selby and Ainsty from the 2019 General Election when then Tory MP Nigel Adams won 60.3% of votes cast in the constituency.

But with Mr Adams having stood down shortly after Boris Johnson and Nadine Dorries also announced their resignations as MPs, and Keir Mather announced as the Labour Party’s candidate, Ms Reeves said the polls were now going the right way.

"It is a massive ask for Labour to win in Selby and Ainsty.

MP Rachel Reeves, Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer: "I think Labour has a fighting chance but we are not taking anything for granted."MP Rachel Reeves, Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer: "I think Labour has a fighting chance but we are not taking anything for granted."
MP Rachel Reeves, Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer: "I think Labour has a fighting chance but we are not taking anything for granted."
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"The Tories hold a large majority from 2019 but recent polls are showing it's now neck and neck.

"Keir Mather has been knocking on doors and on the phone in the constituency 24/7 and what he has been saying is really resonating with people.

"His policies and politics on sewage problems, flooding and the lack of local bus services in the area are going down well.

"I think Labour has a fighting chance but we are not taking anything for granted."

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The Shadow Chancellor’s visit to Tadcaster comes as the Government faces, potentially, five by-elections in the trot.

Ms Reeve said it was vital candidates such as Keir Mather, 25, who was born in Hull and grew up near Selby, before going to Oxford University, won a place at Westminster if the country was to change direction.

"The sheer number of by-elections is a reflection of 13 years of Tory sleaze and failure,” argued Ms Reeves.

"It's also about the staggering arrogance of many Tory MPs.

"The Selby & Ainsty MP Nigel Adams threw his toys out of the pram for not getting a peerage.

"I am proud to be MP for Leeds West.

"I've always thought of being an MP as a huge privilege.

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"If Keir Mather was to win for Labour in Selby & Ainsty, I know he would be a full-time hard worker for constituents here, he would not be taking it for granted."

The Shadow Chancellor said the issues were clear to see on the doorstep in the build-up to the Selby and Ainsty by-election which will take place on Thursday, July 20

"I've been in Tadcaster, walking down the high street, talking to businesses,” said Ms Reeve..

"They've been telling how bad things are now with the cost of living crisis, struggling with energy bills and VAT and all the obstacles now to prosperity."

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"As a candidate, Keir Mather has been very strong on the local issues.

"The Selby and Ainsty area is blessed with a beautiful environment.

"Keir is keen to help local people protect green belt land, though there is a housing problem and we do need more houses.

"But what we are finding on the doorstep is that it is the impact of the cost of living crisis most people are worried about.

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"Labour wants more help for people who are now struggling with the high cost of mortgages and we have the policies to do that.

"Keir is seeing for himself how many constituents in Selby and Ainsty are now facing paying thousands of more pounds each year."

Both Lib Dem leader Ed Vasey and the Labour Party’s campaign coordinator Shabana Mahmood may have ruled out a Labour-Lib Dem pact at the next election but Ms Reeves claims the national tide is turning.

"We are battling for every one of our candidates in every constituency,” said the Shadow Chancellor.

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"We are finding that we are picking up votes from all parties in all parts of the country.

"There are no barriers to the Labour Party's appeal anymore."

Meanwhile, Conservative Party candidate Claire Holmes has said her campaign will focus on economic issues – and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s five pledges.

“My promise to the people of Selby and Ainsty is I will follow through on the five priorities Rishi Sunak has identified because they are going to have a positive impact on people locally.

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“We’ve got good investment – we’ve got £22m for Selby train station, £16m for flood defences, and we’ve got a community diagnostic centre.

"But we want more and that’s why I think I’m the best person to stand up for Selby and Ainsty.”

Lib Dem candidate Matt Walker, a manager in the NHS, who has previously managed GP out-of-hours and minor injuries unit at Selby Memorial Hospital, says he will be putting the NHS at the top of his list in the by-election.

"As a candidate I will be a passionate campaigner for the area, listening to residents' views and championing their issues,” said Mr Walker.

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"In my work, I’ve seen first hand just how amazing our NHS is and just how much damage the Conservatives have done to it.”

Full list of candidates: Selby and Ainsty by-election, Thursday, July 20

Andrew Gray, (Independent)

Claire Holmes, (Conservative Party)

Mike Jordan, (Yorkshire Party)

Dave Kent, (Reform UK)

Keir Mather, (Labour Party)

Nick Palmer, (Independent)

Guy Phoenix, (Heritage Party)

Sir Archibald Stanton, (The Official Monster Raving Loony Party)

Matt Walker, (Liberal Democrats)

Arnold Warneken, (Green Party)

John Waterston, Social Democratic Party)

Luke Wellock, (Climate Party)

Tyler Wilson-Kerr, (Independent)

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