Afzal Khan
Afzal Khan (centre) will fight the Manchester Gorton by-election for Labour Labour

Labour North West MEP Afzal Khan will defend the party's ultra-safe seat of Manchester Gorton in a forthcoming by-election, it was announced on Wednesday evening (22 March).

Khan, 58, beat Momentum favourite Yasmine Dar by just 32 votes (235 versus 203) to be selected as Labour's prospective parliamentary candidate.

The by-election was triggered after Sir Gerald Kaufman passed away aged 86 in February.

The former father of the House of Commons won a majority of 24,000 votes at the general election.

Khan, a former Lord Mayor of Manchester and Unite union member, said he was "proud and honoured" to defend Kaufman's old seat.

He will face Liberal Democrat hopeful Jackie Pearcy, who is running a pro-EU campaign after 61% of Manchester Gorton residents backed a Remain vote at the EU referendum in June.

The Greens have selected businesswoman Jess Mayo, while former Respect Party leader and ex-Labour MP George Galloway has announced his intention to fight the by-election. The left-wing firebrand will stand as an independent candidate.

"A thicket of councillors will put themselves forward. I am not a local councillor any more than Sir Gerald was. I am a parliamentarian as he was a parliamentarian," he told Westmonster.

"I will be heard if you elect me, on matters local national and international. On Brexit and Scottish nationalism, on war and peace, on houses and schools, on work and unemployment, on immigration, on the Commonwealth, on roads and refuse. I will live here, I will work here, I will serve here.

"It's true I'm not local but then neither was Sir Matt Busby. Neither was Sir Alex Ferguson nor Pep Guardiola nor Jose Mourinho. Like them I want to work for you, for Gorton, for Manchester.

I am like Sir Matt, a Scot of Irish background.

"There are plenty of us around Manchester. My 40-year relationship with Pakistan and Bangladesh, my 40 years with the Arabs mean I can speak the language. I can talk the talk but I also walk the walk."

The by-election is expected to be held in May alongside the local and metro-mayor elections across England, Wales and Scotland. The Conservatives have not announced a candidate yet.

Full statement from Afzal Khan

"I'm delighted to be selected by local members to be Labour's candidate for the Manchester Gorton by-election. This is my home and I will always be a strong voice for the people of Gorton.

"Tory cuts have gone too far. Older people, those needing support for mental health, disabilities and learning difficulties, and those affected by homelessness, alcohol and drugs, are being hit by drastic funding cuts driven through by Theresa May's heartless government.
"Manchester is a world class city, and we can make it even better. I will always speak up for Manchester and stand up for hardworking families here."