Starmer hails ‘very special moment’ of mayoral win in Sunak’s back yard

Labour’s victory in a mayoral contest in Rishi Sunak’s back yard is “a very, very special moment”, Sir Keir Starmer has said.

The Labour leader hailed the win by his party’s candidate David Skaith in the York and North Yorkshire mayoral election, an area he described as “the heart of Tory territory”.

Thursday was the first time voters in York and North Yorkshire voted for a regional mayor, with Mr Skaith securing about a third of the vote, and a majority of nearly 15,000 over his Tory rival.

The result will be a blow to the Prime Minister, bringing a defeat in an area previously considered a Conservative stronghold and containing his own constituency of Richmond.

Appearing at Northallerton Town Football Club with new mayor Mr Skaith, Sir Keir said: “It’s an amazing moment in history, to have a Labour victory here.

“We have had really good results across the country all day long, but this is a very, very special moment, David, to become the mayor here.”

He added: “Through the villages and the towns of North Yorkshire, people are voting for change. They voted for Labour, a changed Labour Party able to earn the trust and the respect of voters in York and North Yorkshire.”

Regional Mayoral elections
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer with David Skaith during a visit to Cawood in North Yorkshire (Danny Lawson/PA)

Sir Keir said the win was “vindication” for the Labour Party and showed that “people are fed up with a failed government”.

“This is a historic victory, the villages and towns of North Yorkshire – this is the heart of Tory territory,” he said.

Mr Skaith won 66,761 votes, with Conservative Keane Duncan coming second on 51,967 and Liberal Democrat Felicity Cunliffe-Lister coming third on 30,867.

The new Labour mayor is a small business owner and chairman of York High Street Forum, according to his campaign website.

England mayoral elections 2024 after 4 of 11 results declared
(PA Graphics)

“I think the message is clear from York and North Yorkshire and across the country that we want change,” Mr Skaith said in his victory speech.

“I believe with the Labour Party, and under Keir Starmer, we have the potential for this and I hope this continues, and thank you everyone for your support.”

The mayor’s nearest rival, Conservative candidate Mr Duncan, ran an eye-catching campaign in which he promised to buy and restore the Grand Hotel on Scarborough’s seafront.

The proposal was panned by his political rivals, who claimed it would not be a financially wise move for the York and North Yorkshire Combined Authority.