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Anna Firth: Tories win Southend West by-election held after Sir David Amess’s killing

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T

he Conservatives have held on to the seat of Southend West following a by-election triggered by the killing of Sir David Amess.

In a contest that Labour and the Liberal Democrats along with other mainstream political parties, chose not to contest, Tory candidate Anna Firth ran out as a comfortable winner with 86 per cent of the vote.

The by-election was held after former incumbent Sir David was killed at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea Essex on October 15 during a constituency surgery.

A photograph of Sir David Amess (Kirsty O’Connor/PA) / PA Wire

The 69-year-old had served Southend West since 1997, and Basildon before that since 1983.

Ms Firth, a qualified barrister, vowed to “work tirelessly to build on everything” achieved by Sir David during his lengthy tenure.

In her victory speech, she praised his widow Lady Amess, adding that she recognised it was a “sad and painful day” for his family.

“It is the honour of my life to represent the people of Southend West and the place where I was born,” she told supporters.

The by-election, which was contested by a number of fringe parties and independent candidates, drew a turnout of 24 per cent – a figure just below that of the Batley and Spen contest in 2016, which was held in similar circumstances after Labour MP Jo Cox was killed.

Ballot papers shown being counted during the Southend West by-election (Joe Giddens/PA) / PA Wire

During the count, the PA news agency witnessed a number of spoilt ballots containing messages rallying against Prime Minister Boris Johnson who is embroiled in controversy around potential lockdown breaches in Downing Street.

One ballot seen at the Southend Leisure & Tennis Centre where the count took place said “Boris, do a Brexit – get out”, while another voter scrawled “Get Boris out”

Southend West, with its 66,354 registered voters, has been held by the Conservatives since its creation in 1950.

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