Tamworth Tory candidate Andrew Cooper flees building as Labour winner begins victory speech 

Tamworth Tory candidate Andrew Cooper made a swift exit after Labour winner Sarah Edwards began giving her victory speech.

The Tory candidate for Tamworth, Andrew Cooper, was spotted hurrying out the building as Labour’s Sarah Edwards began giving her victory speech. 

On Thursday (19 October), Labour claimed resounding by-election victories in two formerly safe seats for the Conservatives – Tamworth and Mid Bedfordshire – previously held by Boris Johnson loyalists Nadine Dorries and Chris Pincher.

Edwards managed to overturn a Conservative majority of more than 19,600 to win her seat, which has been held by the Conservatives since 2010.

The Labour candidate received 11,719 votes while Cooper garnered 10,403 votes for the Tories – giving Labour a majority of 1,316, with a swing of 23.89 per cent.

However, Cooper didn’t appear to be inclined to stick around to hear Edwards’ victory speech.

In a clip posted on X, formerly Twitter, the Conservative contender can be seen making a swift exit through the nearest fire door, as Edwards began her speech. 

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Edwards told ITV reporter Lewis Warner that Cooper was in the building for “less than five minutes”. 

She said: “I think it’s disappointing, but I think it really shows you know, that was the candidate who was put forward.

“And we have seen his true colours, so it’s one of those things, it is a shame.” 

Edwards, who is a union organiser for Unite and a former NHS governor, said in her speech that her win shows voters had voted for Labour’s “positive vision” and “a fresh start”. 

She said the result in Tamworth showed voters sending a “clear message to Rishi Sunak and the Conservatives they have had enough of this failed government”, which had “crashed the economy and destroyed our public services”.

“The people of Tamworth have made it clear – it’s time for change,” she said, as reported by the BBC.

Cooper came under scrutiny ahead of Thursday’s by-election for a hand-drawn flow diagram he shared on Facebook in 2020, suggesting parents who are struggling to feed their children should “f**k off”.

The handmade chart slated parents on low incomes who “pay for nails/eyebrows/lips etc” or Sky TV.

At Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday (18 October), prime minister Rishi Sunak was asked to condemn the sentiment expressed in Cooper’s flowchart, but instead chose to speak about the government’s action on the cost-of-living crisis. 

Sunak’s spokesperson later said: “I think the way the prime minister goes about his business is ‘judge us by our actions’.

“He believes that actions matter more [than words]. I haven’t heard him use that word personally.”

The Tories’ double by-election defeat in Tamworth and Mid Bedforshire follows the party stepping up their anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric at their annual conference in Manchester.

Sunak used his Conservative Party Conference speech to say that misgendering trans people is “just common sense” to a round of applause from MPs and party members in the audience.

The conference also saw health secretary Steve Barclay announce plans to ban trans women from being cared for on single-sex wards in NHS hospitals. 

The move was supported by Suella Bavarian who told Sky News that trans women – who she referred to by the transphobic dog whistle term “biological men” – have “no place in women’s wards”.

At the 2023 PinkNews Awards, Tory MP Caroline Nokes hit out at Braverman’s “hugely problematic” comments about trans women on hospital wards.

She said: “The Gender Recognition Act (GRA) is there for a reason – it’s there to protect trans people, it’s there to give them their rights.” 

The awards also saw Tory MP Penny Mordaunt’s twin brother James, who is gay, slam the Tories for being “the most anti-LGBT government” he has seen in his lifetime.

PinkNews has contacted Andrew Cooper for comment.