Sir Keir Starmer claimed Labour was the party in Middle England, and believes that he has enough charisma to win a steady poll lead over Conservatives for the next twelve months.

As he claimed that his most recent cabinet reshuffle had gotten his “strongest pitch” ahead of an eventual general election, the Labour leader accused Boris Johnson’s government of failing to businesses and raising the cost of living.

Starmer stated in an interview to The Times that he believes the contrast between the government and us will grow more stark.

“We have made substantial progress in polling. I believe the green shoots or red shoots are present.  

When asked if Labour was his party in Middle England, he said: “Yes, it is. It must be. Have you got to concentrate on the Red Wall and winning votes? But, we also need to be focused on winning votes at the Blue Wall and other parts of the United Kingdom.

Sir Keir Starmer (pictured today) has claimed Labour is the party of Middle England and believes he has the charisma to secure a consistent poll lead over the Conservatives

Sir Keir starmer, (pictured today), claimed Labour was the party of Middle England. He believes that he is charismatic enough to maintain a lead in polls over the Conservatives

Starmer promoted several prominent centrists in his unexpected reshuffle Monday. This resulted in Starmer losing his core allies.

His broad-based reshuffle resulted in Yvette cooper, Nick Thomas Symonds’s shadow home secretary, returning to the frontbench. 

He also also handed big promotions to two of Labour’s rising stars, Bridget Phillipson and Wes Streeting, who are taking on the roles of shadow education secretary and shadow health secretary.

Jonathan Ashworth has moved from shadow work to pensions secretary and has now had his health brief during the pandemic.

David Lammy replaced Ms. Nandy as shadow foreign secretary. As shadow secretary for levelling-up and community development, she was forced to compete with Michael Gove. 

Angela Rayner, deputy leader of the reshuffle, was blindsided by the results. Allies believe that the division can be repaired.

Starmer, however, insists the couple are still close friends. There is no problem between them. 

The Labour leader sent a note to his shadow cabinet after the move, stating that it would operate in a completely different way.

Although he claimed a Labour surge, his party lost another election on Friday at the Old Bexley & Sidcup byelection. However, the Tories still had a smaller majority. 

The Conservatives had the majority in safe seats. Reduced from nearly 19,000 to under 4,500

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner delivers a speech on rebuilding trust in public life - hammering the Tories - just as her boss began sacking Corbynistas

Angela Rayner (Deputy Labour Leader) delivers a speech to rebuild trust in public life. She is hammering on the Tories, just as her boss was sacking Corbynistas

The Tory chairman Oliver Dowden said it was an “excellent result for a government party mid-term” and dismissed Labour claims that the improved second place finish shows it is well on its way to winning power in 2024.  

Ellie Reeves, shadow solicitor general, said that the Labour 10.3 percent swing was “fantastic” and that if it were to be replicated in a general election Labour could form a majority government. 

But Mr Dowden said: ‘The idea that Labour has made a surge in the future is purely for the birds.  

The vote – which was called following the death of former cabinet minister James Brokenshire in October – took place amid a whirlwind of sleaze allegations against the Government.

Louie French was the Tory candidate and won with 11,189 votes. This is more than his Labour counterpart on 6,711, which gives him an overwhelming majority of 4,478.

With just slightly more than 51 percent, the Tories had a 13% decrease in their share of votes compared to the general election results for 2019.

Only 34% of the voters participated in the contest, which was down almost 70% from 2019. 

In his acceptance speech Mr French acknowledged Mr Brokenshire’s accomplishments and stated that it was a difficult contest which had been won with dignity and respect. 

French was one of ten candidates for the seat, along with Simone Reynolds and Jonathan Rooks from the Lib Dems and Jonathan Rooks for Greens. Richard Tice, for Reform Party, came in third place, scoring 1,432 votes.

Mr Tice, who is also the Reform Party leader, later 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.’

After weeks of turmoil, growing anger and frustration at Johnson’s handling of Covid crises and sleaze claims, the result could raise questions about Johnson’s leadership.

After Owen Paterson’s resignation, the Conservatives will have to face another by-election in North Shropshire later this month.  

Boris Johnson and the Tories were given a bloody nose in the Old Bexley and Sidcup by-election as their majority was slashed from 19,000 to less than 4,500. Conservative candidate Louie French is pictured celebrating the victory

Boris Johnson, the Tories and Sidcup By-Election were beaten to death by the Tories. Their majority fell from 19,000 down to under 4,500. Louie French, Conservative candidate is seen celebrating his victory 

The result is likely to raise further questions over Mr Johnson's leadership after weeks of turmoil

This result could raise questions regarding Johnson’s leadership in the face of weeks of turmoil.

Sky News’ Mr Dowden said this morning that he wasn’t worried about Labour after the Tory majority in his constituency was cut. 

He declared that it was good news for a party to be a governing one mid-term. You know that governing parties should not expect to be successful in the mid-term. 

“We secured more than 50% of the votes in Bexley. This result is a tribute to the outstanding candidate and campaign team that achieved it.

“The idea that Labour are ahead in the polls is just for birds. In fact, they have about the exact same voter share than under Jeremy Corbyn. KeirStarmer was unable to make it to the byelection so I don’t really worry about Labour. 

When asked if allegations of sleaze might have affected the performance of the Tories, Dowden replied: “Of course people have concerns midterm about any government’s performances. There have been concerns about recent events over the last couple of months.

“I think it’s a tribute to Louie French’s campaign, and the great team that was down there that secured us 50 percent of the vote.

“Now, I understand that the government must focus on delivery and not get distracted,”

Ms Reeves, who helped run the Labour campaign in the by-election, tweeted: ‘A fantastic 10.3 per cent swing to Labour in the Conservative heartland of Old Bexley and Sidcup. 

“If Labour was to win a general election, they would have the potential to form a majority government.  

According to the shadow minister, Labour is ‘pleased with’ the “remarkable” result.

“This is an area that was a Conservative stronghold. It had a 19,000 majority in the last general election. What we have seen tonight is that majority being cut,” she stated. 

The candidates in the by-election are pictured in the early hours of this morning as they waited for the result to be announced

Pictured are the candidates participating in the byelection as they waited in anticipation of the announcement. 

Votes were counted through the evening in the constituency after polls closed at 10pm last night

After polls close at 10 p.m. last night, votes were still being counted in the constituency throughout the evening.

Votes were counted at Crook Log Leisure Centre in Bexleyheath in the early hours of today

In the wee hours of this morning, Votes were Counted at Crook Log Leisure Centre (Bexleyheath)

“There was a 10% swing towards Labour this evening. Many, many Conservative voters have told us that they won’t vote for them this election. We have been knocking at doors since weeks.

“It’s evident that we are winning back trust and this is a remarkable result in a Tory stronghold.” 

After the results were announced, the Tories put on a brave front by pointing out that Mr French received more votes than the Tories. 

Conservative deputy chairman Justin Tomlinson said: ‘We’re absolutely thrilled. It is rare for a government to receive more than 50% of votes in a by-election.

“An exceptional local candidate. A positive campaign focused on the tangible impact we make to people’s lifes, after navigating the extraordinary challenges of Covid.

He said that it was an “absolute disaster” for Labour Party and added: “They don’t look like a government in waiting.”

French stated in his triumph speech: “I am incredibly proud that my campaign, which was built on local issues that are important to our community members,”

“And tonight, these people send a clear signal: they want an elected representative who will work alongside the government to realize their priorities.

“My new focus is to fulfill the promises made during my campaign, which was getting our fair share London police officers and more investments for our local hospitals, schools and green spaces.

Labour claimed its improved second place position showed Sir Keir Starmer has the party on a path back to power

Labour’s improved second-place position shows Sir Keir Sternmer that the party is on its way back to power 

Officials at the vote count for the Old Bexley and Sidcup seat last night

Officials attending the Old Bexley/Sidcup election count last night

He pledged voters that he would work tirelessly to return the trust you have placed in him and that he will never let them down. 

“This is the greatest honour in my life. This is my greatest honour and I pray it will inspire others to realize their goals. 

Following the October death from lung cancer at 53 years old, Mr Brokenshire died in by-election.   

Since 2010, he represents Old Bexley & Sidcup, having previously been elected MP for Hornchurch back in 2005. 

This constituency is held by both the Conservatives and in various other forms of government since 1983.