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General election 2024: Cities of London and Westminster turns Labour for first time in history

By Adrian Zorzut, Local Democracy Reporter

Labour’s Rachel Blake has won the seat of the Cities of London and Westminster by a majority of 2,708 votes, with the constituency turning red for the first time in its history.

Ms Blake is the first Labour candidate to win the seat, which has returned a Conservative candidate in every general election since it was created in 1950.

In second place was Conservative candidate and former Westminster City councillor Tim Barnes, with 12,594 votes.

Edward Lucas from the Liberal Democrats came in third with 4,335 votes. A source said support for the Liberal Democrats has ‘collapsed’ causing voters to back Labour instead.

Conservative Tim Barnes (Picture: Adrian Zorzut)

Polls leading up to the general election indicated a tight three-horse race in the seat, with the Liberal Democrats narrowly tipped to come in second place. Ms Blake is a first-time MP.

Mr Barnes, a former Westminster City councillor, represented the Tories after incumbent MP Nickie Aiken announced she was stepping down after the general election.

Also up for grabs was the Westminster City council ward of Abbey Road, which was won by Conservative Hannah Rebecca Galley, 30, with 1,852 votes in a by-election.

In her victory speech as MP, Ms Blake said the result showed it was “time to move on”. She said: “Yesterday, people across the country had their say and we should never, ever take this for granted.

Liberal Democrat Edward Lucas (Picture: Adrian Zorzut)

“I know many of you have voted Labour for the first time ever – voting Labour to remove the Conservatives from office, I know this.

“Homelessness is rising. Waiting lists are rising. Bills are going up and for too long our country has been held back.”

Ms Blake has promised to make housing reform a priority.

Tory Mr Barnes said he was not surprised by the result and said Reform UK’s poor standing in the seat showed residents had turned their backs on “populist politics”.

He also said it would be “foolish” for his party to lurch to the right, and urged his colleagues to use the next few months to think about what direction the party takes next.

Green candidate Rajiv Sinha (Picture: Adrian Zorzut)

When asked if Rishi Sunak should resign as leader of the Conservative Party, he said it was “immaterial” and repeated his plea for colleagues to take their time charting a way forward for the party.

Green candidate Rajiv Sinha said it was disappointing to see his party narrowly scrape past Reform UK, taking fourth place with as few as 92 votes.

He said although his party did not fare well in the two cities, he was more optimistic about their vote nationally, where they have gained several seats.

Mr Sinha said he plans to run for council in 2026.

Pictured top: Labour’s Rachel Blake has won the seat of the Cities of London and Westminster (Picture: Adrian Zorzut)

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