Labour will face a double by-election fight in Stoke and Copeland on Thursday 24 February, it emerged on Friday (20 January).

The party is battling to retain the West Midlands and West Cumbria seats after Tristram Hunt and Jamie Reed announced their plans to quit the House of Commons.

Hunt, who has represented Stoke-on-Trent central since 2010, has landed a job as director of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, while Reed, first elected to parliament in 2005, is going back to work at the Sellafield nuclear power plant.

Labour is expected to move the writ – the mechanism to trigger a by-election – on 23 January. The party selected councillor Gillian Troughton, a former doctor, as its prospective parliamentary candidate for Copeland last night.

"Gillian is a local councillor with a strong track record of getting things done for her community. She has campaigned tirelessly to maintain local hospital services," Jeremy Corbyn said.

Troughton is defending a majority of more than 2,500 from the 2015 general election.

A Labour candidate for the Stoke by-election has not yet been selected. But the hopeful, who will defend a majority of more than 5,000 voters, is expected to face a tough challenge from Ukip and the Conservatives. Stoke voters backed a Brexit at the EU referendum by 69%, while Labour and Hunt campaigned for Remain.

Ukip leader Paul Nuttall is reportedly considering running in the by-election. The Eurosceptic party will announce its candidate on Saturday morning.

The latest national opinion poll from YouGov, of more than 1,600 people between 17 and 18 January, put Labour 17 points behind the Conservatives (42% versus 25%).