Janet Daby was elected as the new Labour MP for Lewisham East but with a massively reduced majority as the Lib Dems gained second place over the Conservatives.
Daby, a Lewisham councillor, gained 50 per cent of the vote, but turnout was just 33 per cent, half of that at the general election last year.
The result in an area that voted overwhelmingly for Remain in the referendum will be seen as an endorsement of Daby, a strong opponent of a ‘hard Brexit’ and a lack of support for Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who has been criticised for failing to reflect the similar feelings of many Labour members over Brexit.
The by-election was called because Heidi Alexander resigned to become Deputy Mayor of London for transport.
Daby received 11,033 votes, the Lib Dem candidate Lucy Salek 5,404, which was almost 25 per cent, while Conservative candidate Ross Archer polled 3,161 votes, or 14.4 per cent.
Labour’s majority in what has been regarded as one of the safest seats in the country was cut from 21,213 at the election to just 5,629. Labour have held the seat since 1992.
The BBC quotes Lib Dem Leader Sir Vince Cable describing it as “the largest swing from Labour to the Liberal Democrats in over a decade” something he attributed to “the failure of Labour’s leadership to oppose the Conservatives’ hard Brexit”.
Both the UKIP candidate and far right candidate Anne Marie Waters’ For Britain Movement only polled 380 and 266 votes respectively.
Daby said: “I’m honoured and delighted to be the new elected Lewisham MP. I have a passion for Lewisham East. I live here with my family. I’m proud to be here as a black British woman. I represent much of Lewisham. But we still have a way to go,” Daby said.
She added: “I will fight to hold the Tories to account for damaging our society. And I have a lot of fight in me.”