Sleaford by-election: Voters prepare to elect new MP

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Stephen Phillips MP
Image caption,
Stephen Phillips had been an MP since 2010

By-election campaigns in Sleaford are into their final stages as voters prepare to go to the polls on Thursday.

The Lincolnshire seat became vacant after Tory MP Stephen Phillips quit last month over "irreconcilable policy differences" with the government.

He had a majority of more than 24,000 at the last general election.

Paediatrician Caroline Johnson will run for the Tories, taking on Labour's Jim Clarke, Lib Dem Ross Pepper and UKIP's Victoria Ayling.

Labour's Sleaford hopeful Mr Clarke is a refuse collector, while Lib Dem Mr Pepper works for an optician and UKIP's Ms Ayling is a Lincolnshire County councillor.

The Green Party is not fielding a candidate, but has given its backing to independent Sarah Stock, who is campaigning on a "Save the NHS" ticket.

In last year's election, Mr Phillips, who had held the seat since 2010, won a majority of 24,115, with 56% of the vote.

Labour finished second, closely followed by UKIP. Sleaford saw a 70% turnout.

Media caption,

Voters in Sleaford and North Hykeham are asked about Brexit and other by-election issues.

Earlier this week UKIP's Nigel Farage was asked if his party's candidate, Ms Ayling, stood a chance of winning.

"I don't know, it's 2016, why predict anything? Only an idiot predicts things in 2016 because it's been so full of upsets," he replied.

Sleaford's by-election comes a week after the Liberal Democrats caused a major upset in the Richmond Park by-election.

Lib Dem Sarah Olney, who fought her campaign on the issue of Brexit, overturned a 23,015 majority to oust ex-Tory MP Zac Goldsmith.

The full list of candidates for the Sleaford and North Hykeham by-election is:

  • The Iconic Arty-Pole - Monster Raving Loony Party
  • Victoria Ayling - UKIP
  • David Bishop - Bus-Pass Elvis Party
  • Jim Clarke - Labour
  • Paul Coyne - No description
  • Dr Caroline Johnson - Conservatives
  • Marianne Overton - Lincolnshire Independents
  • Ross Pepper - Liberal Democrats
  • Sarah Stock - Independent
  • Mark Suffield - No description