LONDON—Keir Starmer’s ambitions of becoming Prime Minister received a significant boost as his party celebrated a remarkable triumph in the Selby and Ainsty by-election, characterizing it as a “cry for change.”

Labour’s success was evident in their overturning of a substantial 20,000 majority, defeating the Conservatives and putting pressure on the Prime Minister and his government. In a similar landmark victory, the Liberal Democrats also managed to seize the Somerton and Frome seat in Somerset from the Tories.

However, amidst the celebrations, the Conservatives found a silver lining as they managed to hold on to Boris Johnson’s former constituency of Uxbridge and Ruislip, albeit by a margin of fewer than 500 votes.

PM Rishi Sunak emphasized the significance of the result, saying, “Westminster has been acting like the next election is a done deal. Labor is acting like it is a done deal. The people of Uxbridge just told all of them that it is not. Nobody expected us to win here.”

While the Uxbridge outcome brought some relief to the Prime Minister, it also prompted Labuor to reconsider how they present their environmental policies. The stakes are high, as a 6.7% swing nationally in a general election could potentially result in Keir Starmer becoming the Prime Minister.

Analyzing the implications of the by-election results, experts highlight that if the Selby swing were replicated nationwide, it could lead to a Labor majority of over 200. However, the Conservatives argue that by-elections may not always be reliable indicators of general elections, citing historical examples of past losses that were later reclaimed. Nonetheless, the magnitude of Selby’s swing, nearly double that of comparable scenarios, has raised eyebrows and warranted close examination.

Looking back at previous by-elections and the resulting general elections, the 1996 Staffordshire South East by-election provides a close comparison, with a significant 22% swing. Following that by-election, a year later, Tony Blair achieved a landslide victory. While this may offer hope for Keir Starmer, it is important to exercise caution, as the Tory vote in Selby fell significantly by 24,000, whereas the Labour vote only rose by 2,500.

As the parties take stock of the by-election results, all three have reasons to celebrate. The Greens had a historic day, securing third place in all three by-elections. The Liberal Democrats have firmly reestablished themselves as the third-party in England after spending years in the wilderness following their controversial coalition participation. On the Conservative side, Rishi Sunak expressed his relief at avoiding a total wipeout, which had been a concern leading up to the by-elections.

With these results shaping the political landscape, the race for the next General Election appears to have intensified. Keir Starmer’s success in Selby has positioned him closer to his goal of becoming Prime Minister, but with the unpredictable nature of politics, all parties are gearing up for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

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