Voters in the Cumbrian seat of Copeland are set to head to the polls on Thursday to choose a new MP following the resignation of Labour’s Jamie Reed.
The former frontbencher, who announced his resignation in December, is leaving to take a job in the nuclear industry at the processing plant at Sellafield in the constituency.
Labour are defending a majority of 2,564 in Copeland, making it the tightest by-election for the party since Jeremy Corbyn became leader in 2015.
Previously, Jack Cunningham had held the seat for 35 years from 1970.
Bookies are expecting a success for the Conservatives, whose candidate is Trudy Harrison, 40, a former Community Regeneration Officer at Copeland Borough Council.
A Conservative win would heap serious pressure on Corbyn, with Labour’s own canvass returns showing it could lose the by-election with the party’s support reportedly down a third since 2015.
Labour campaign coordinator Ian Lavery has insisted the prospect of losing the rock-solid seat would be a mere “hiccup.”
The Wansbeck MP admitted that any defeat would see Labour “review the strategy going forward”, but insisted the local and mayoral elections in May would become the focus of the party very quickly regardless of the result.
When is the Copeland by-election?
On 23 February – the same day as Labour defends the seat in a by-election in Stoke-on-Trent Central.
When do the polls open?
Polls open from 7am on 23 February until 10pm.
Who are the candidates?
Michael Guest – Independent
Rebecca Hanson – Liberal Democrats
Trudy Harrison – Conservatives
Roy Ivinson – Independent
Jack Lenox – Green Party
Fiona Mills – Ukip
Gillian Troughton – Labour
What are the latest odds?
Liberal Democrats 50/1
When will the result be announced?
Counting will begin once polling stations have closed and the result is expected overnight or at some time early on Friday morning.