Labour selects by-election candidate who vows to ‘bring back decency’

Labour selects by-election candidate who vows to ‘bring back decency’
Contest is chance to ‘scrub area clean of Tory sleaze’, says Ben Wood

Arbeid’s newly-selected candidate to fight the by-election forced by resignation of former Conservative minister Owen Paterson has vowed to bring back “a sense of decency”.

Ben Wood said he was “over the moon” to be chosen as the flagbearer for Keir Starmer’s party in the upcoming North Shropshire contest.

Mr Paterson quit earlier this month following the debacle which saw Boris Johnson’s government make a botched attempt to save him from suspension and rewrite disciplinary rules in the process.

The former Conservative MP had a huge majority of almost 23,000 in the West Midlands seat, but Mr Wood claimed the Tories had “taken North Shropshire for granted”.

The Labour campaigner – a former intern of MP Neil Coyle – tweeted: “I’ll be putting forward a new plan with fresh ideas to give our area a brighter future, but I also want to bring a sense of decency back to our politics.”

Han la til: “Local people are quite rightly proud of where they live and they have been let down very badly. This by-election gives them the chance to scrub North Shropshire clean of Tory sleaze.”

Saying the Labour candidate would “stand against corruption”, Sir Keir said the people of North Shropshire “deserve an MP who will work to improve their communities, not line their own pockets”.

Dr Neil Shastri-Hurst, a former British Army Medical Officer who now works as a barrister, was selected by Tory party members in North Shropshire on Saturday.

Mr Johnson’s faces a series of electoral tests in the weeks ahead, with the North Shropshire contest taking place on 16 desember. Another by-election will be held in Old Bexley and Sidcup following Conservative MP James Brokenshire’s death from cancer last month.

There is also the prospect of a by-election in in Leicester East, after MP Claudia Webbe was convicted of harassment and given a suspended jail sentence. The Labour leader has called for Webbe – who has been sitting as an independent – to stand down.

Mr Johnson has refused to apologise for the Paterson mess. But he did offer some contrition at his post-Cop26 press conference on Sunday, admitting: “Things could certainly have been handled better by me," han sa.

It comes as Labour demanded investigations into fresh standards allegations against Mr Johnson and Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg, as sleaze claims continue to dog the government.

The opposition said that new information from Jennifer Arcuri about her relationship with Mr Johnson while he was mayor of London should be investigated by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

In a diary entry published in Observatøren, the US entrepreneur alleged that Mr Johnson overruled the advice of his staff in 2013 to attend an event promoting her tech venture Innotech.

Deputy leader Angela Rayner said the diary entries merited a “full investigation” into whether Mr Johnson acted appropriately and the processes which led to more than £100,000 of public funding being given to Ms Arcuri’s businesses.

Labour also wants Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg investigated by Commons standards commissioner Kathryn Stone over claims in the Mail On Sunday that he failed to declare director’s loans from his company Saliston Limited between 2018 og 2020.

The Tories have been rocked in recent days after opinion poll results suggested claims of sleaze have damaged their standing with voters – with as many as four surveys in the past five days suggesting Mr Johnson’s governing party has lost its lead over Labour.

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