George Galloway has vowed to launch a legal challenge against Labour’s win in a bitter by-election battle in West Yorkshire.
Kim Leadbeater won in the Batley and Spen constituency with a majority of 323, down from 3,525 in 2019.
She secured the seat with 13,296 votes, with Tory Ryan Stephenson on 12,973 and Mr Galloway – who had targeted Labour voters and campaigned to topple party leader Sir Keir Starmer – in third with 8.264.
The result means Ms Leadbeater now represents the seat previously held by her sister Jo Cox, who was murdered in the constituency in 2016.
But Mr Galloway, a former Labour firebrand from Dundee who failed in a bid to be elected to Holyrood in May, refused to accept the result.
George Galloway's response to #BatleyAndSpen by-election: 'I'll challenge result in court'.
The former Labour MP speaks after witnessing the count, during which Kim Leadbeater was declared victorious.
— Sky News (@SkyNews) July 2, 2021
He said: “On multiple grounds, we will apply to the courts for this election result to be set aside.
“You will be hearing much more of this from me, directly, from the horse’s mouth, over the next hours and days.”
Speaking after her victory, Ms Leadbeater told the PA news agency that politics must change, as she highlighted the abuse she suffered during the by-election campaign.
“The majority of the campaign was absolutely fine but I think last weekend we saw some really inappropriate behaviour,” she said.
“I suffered abuse and intimidation myself, members of my campaign team were abused in the street and had things thrown at them, someone’s been arrested.
“I just hope we can all agree that our politics is better than that. We shouldn’t be having that sort of behaviour.”
She said: “I’m really looking forward to it but I do think there’s a broader conversation to be had about what politics looks like in the UK.
“And I’ve spent the last five years working in the Jo Cox Foundation to try and improve civility in public life. I’m now in the middle of it and things do need to change.
“And, if I can be half the MP that she was, then I’ll be doing a good job.”