The Conservatives said Louie French’s victory was “almost unheard of” for a sitting Government
The party secured 52% of the vote on a much reduced turnout at Thursday’s by-election, held following the death of James Brokenshire in October.
Tory deputy chairman Justin Tomlinson said: “We’re absolutely thrilled. For a Government to get over 50% of the vote in a parliamentary by-election is almost unheard of, and with a majority of over 20%.
“A fantastic local candidate, positive campaign, focused on the tangible difference we’re making to people’s lives, having navigated the unprecedented challenges of Covid.”
The winning candidate, a local councillor who wore Mr Brokenshire’s rosette on election night as a mark of respect for his predecessor, said the people of Old Bexley and Sidcup had sent “a clear message: they want an MP who will work with the Government to deliver on their priorities”.
He added: “My focus will now be delivering on those promises that I made during the campaign – get our fair share of London’s police officers, securing more investment for local schools and hospitals, protecting our precious green spaces.”
Mr Tomlinson also said it was “an absolute disaster” for Labour, adding: “Their deal that they’ve done with the Liberal Democrats to concentrate on this one and the Liberal Democrats to concentrate on Shropshire has massively backfired for the Labour Party. It’s yet another disastrous parliamentary by-election for them.”
But the Labour Party sounded an upbeat note despite their loss, pointing to a 10% swing from the Conservatives to Labour and their 30.8% share of the vote – the party’s highest share in the seat for 20 years.
Ellie Reeves, MP for Lewisham West and Penge, said: “We’re pleased with the result tonight.
“This is a Conservative stronghold, somewhere that had a 19,000 majority at the last general election and what we’ve seen tonight is that majority being slashed. There’s been a 10% swing over to Labour this evening.
“We’ve been knocking on doors for weeks here and finding many, many Conservative voters that have said actually I’m not going to vote for them this time, I’m going to vote for Labour.
“I think it’s clear that we’re winning back the trust of people and it’s a remarkable result for us in a Tory stronghold.”
Labour sources claimed that if the 10% swing was replicated across the country, the Prime Minister would be in danger of losing his seat.
Third-placed Richard Tice leader of Reform UK (formerly the Brexit Party), also hailed his 6.6% share of the vote as a significant result for his party.
Mr Tice tweeted: “Huge thanks to voters in Old Bexley & Sidcup. A massive result for @reformparty_uk, coming 3rd with almost as many votes as the Lib Dems & Greens combined. Now only 5 parties to choose from in British politics and Reform UK is the only one on the upward march.”