Former Coronation street actress shortlisted to replace Jo Cox

Tracy Brabin.
Tracy Brabin.

Former Coronation Street actress Tracy Brabin has been confirmed as one of two possible candidates Labour will field in the Batley and Spen by-election.

Labour confirmed Ms Brabin and Jane Thomas, who stood for the party in Keighley in 2010, will go forward to the final selection stage.

Jo Cox.

Jo Cox.

It is understood potential candidates were expecting three people to be put through but the party decided to only shortlist two before local members have their say.

The pair will take part in a hustings in the constituency on Friday.

The by-election was triggered by the death of former MP Jo Cox in June.

The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats have already indicated they will not put candidates forward for the election.

It is expected some smaller parties may stand in the by-election on October 20.

Ms Brabin, a friend of Mrs Cox who spoke at her funeral, is best known for her roles in a string of TV soaps including Coronation Street, Emmerdale and Eastenders.

Mrs Thomas stood as Labour’s candidate in Keighley at the 2010 general election after sitting Labour MP Ann Cryer decided to stand down.

However, Keighley was a Conservative gain as current MP Kris Hopkins won with a majority of 2,940.

Earlier today it was confirmed medical issues will not be part of the trial of the man accused of murdering Mrs Cox.

Thomas Mair, 53, is accused of shooting and stabbing Mrs Cox, 41, outside her constituency surgery in Birstall, near Leeds, on June 16.

He is charged with murder, grievous bodily harm, possession of a firearm with intent to commit an indictable offence and possession of an offensive weapon. Prosecutor Tom Little said during a hearing at the Old Bailey on Monday that the main issue in the trial will be “factual”.

“The prosecution understand that the issues will be factual, or appear to be at this stage,” he added.

Cairns Nelson, defending, confirmed that the defendant has been assessed by doctors and that medical evidence will not form part of the defence.

Mair was due to appear via video link from top security Belmarsh jail, but his barrister gave permission for the brief preliminary hearing to be held in his absence because there was a technical problem.

Mair, from Birstall, is being held in custody. His case is being handled under the “terrorism protocol” as part of a terror list before Mr Justice Saunders. He is due to appear at the Old Bailey on October 4 for a plea hearing and will stand trial in November.