A SENIOR Tory has admitted the Matt Hancock scandal was a factor in the Batley and Spen byelection despite Boris Johnson dismissing it as part of the “Westminster bubble”.

Conservative party co-chair Amanda Milling said the former Health Secretary’s resignation for breaking his own Covid rules “did come up on the doorstep”.

Labour held the West Yorkshire seat against a Tory onslaught last night in a result seen as vital to Sir Keir Starmer’s survival as leader of the party.

Kim Leadbeater, the sister of the murdered MP Jo Cox, who previously represented the seat, held on by 323 votes over the Tories, compared to a Labour majority of 3,525 in 2019.

The Prime Minister initially stood by Mr Hancock last Friday, after the Sun printed a picture of the married father-of-three kissing his aide Gina Colandangelo in his Whitehall office.

Mr Hancock admitted the May 6 clinch was a breach of the social distancing rules in force at the time, but the Prime Minister insisted the matter was “closed”.

However, as public and Tory anger mounted, Mr Hancock quit the next day, just five days before the byelection.

READ MORE: Batley and Spen - Kim Leadbeater wins sister Jo Cox's seat as Galloway defeated

Speaking on BBC Breakfast, Ms Milling suggested the revelations about Mr Hancock, and the accusations of Tory hypocrisy that went with them, may have helped Labour to cling on in Batley and Spen.

She said: “I’ll be honest with you; the issue with Matt did come up on the doorstep. 

“But it was a whole wide range of different issues.”

Asked to expand on her point about Mr Hancock, she said: “Obviously, people have made many, many sacrifices over the last 12 months or so and been frustrated by the impact the virus has had on our lives.”

Speaking on Sky News, Ms Milling added: “It was something that came up on the doorstep, I have to be honest about that. They (voters) had some issues over the weekend in terms of what happened.

“I know the public will be incredibly frustrated because at the end of the day we have all made a huge number of sacrifices. But Matt did the right thing by resigning. 

“The matter is now closed.”

READ MORE: Jacob Rees-Mogg says Disgraced Matt Hancock still a 'genius'

Ms Milling said that it had been a “tremendous result” for the Tories to get so close in a constituency which had been Labour held since 1997.

She said: “It was a very, very close result. This is not a great win for the Labour Party. They have only won by a matter of just over 300 votes. Governing parties don’t gain by-elections and actually taking it to such a small number of votes is in itself a tremendous result.”

She also insisted that Mr Johnson, who called the Hancock scandal a “Westminster bubble” issue at PMQs on Wednesday, remained very popular among voters.

She said: “There is a lot of love for the Prime Minister. He gets a tremendous lot of support on the doorstep.”

The byelection was triggered by the resignation of MP Tracy Brabin after her election as a regional mayor in May.

On Twitter, Nicola Sturgeon said she was pleased at Ms Leadbeater’s win, and glass that “ugly” tactics had been defeated, a possible dig at former Labour MP George Galloway, who ran on an anti-Starmer ticker and came third with more than a fifth of the vote.

Meanwhile Labour is continuing to press for answers as to whether Mr Hancock followed proper procedures when he appointed Ms Coladangelo to the board of the Department of Health and Social Care for £15,000-a-year for just 15 days’ work.

She has since also resigned from the department since beijing caught on CCTV with him.