Conservatives keep a firm hold in the Sleaford by-election as Labour says: "This was not the result we hoped for"

Emma Haslett
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The Sleaford And North Hykeham By-election
Caroline Johnson won more than half the vote (Source: Getty)

Well, this is awkward. The Conservatives have kept their grip on the Lincolnshire seat of Sleaford and North Hykeham, after the constituency's original MP resigned over "irreconcilable policy differences".

Caroline Johnson held on to the seat for the party, with more than 53 per cent of the vote, while Ukip came second, with 13.5 per cent of the vote, and the Lib Dems' Ross Pepper followed, with 11 per cent.

Meanwhile, Labour's Jim Clarke came last, mustering just 10 per cent of the vote - which Labour MP Vernon Coaker pointed out was disappointing.

"Let's remember this is a safe Tory seat," he said.

"But clearly, this was not the result we might have hoped for."

Johnson said: "I look forward to strengthening the government's majority in Parliament so Theresa May, our Prime Minister, can get on with the job of triggering Article 50, leaving the European Union and building a country and economy that works for everyone."

Irreconcilable policy differences

The by-election was triggered at the beginning of last month after then-MP Stephen Phillips resigned, citing "very significant policy differences" over Brexit, complaining that the government is avoiding parliamentary scrutiny.

Ukip had hoped to do better in the vote, although the party's new leader, Paul Nuttall, called second place a "great result".

"I think it's a really good way to get my leadership off the ground. This is a small step on a long road."

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