The actor Tracy Brabin has been selected as the Labour party’s candidate to replace Jo Cox as MP for Batley and Spen.
The former Coronation Street, EastEnders and Emmerdale actor was a close friend of Cox, who was shot and stabbed to death in her West Yorkshire constituency on 16 June.
Brabin was shortlisted for the role alongside the environmental campaigner Jane Thomas on Monday and was selected following a hustings and vote by constituency party members on Friday night.
Brabin, 55, said: “I’m humbled and privileged. Obviously no one wanted this, but I’m the only person on the ballot paper that can stand up for everyone in Batley and Spen.
“I’m really looking forward to meeting everyone in the constituency and, hopefully, winning their trust. I’m hoping people will put party politics to one side and we can work together.”
Brabin tweeted: “Jo was my inspiration. I intend to do her proud.”
The Conservatives, Greens, Ukip and the Liberal Democrats announced that they would not field a candidate in the byelection as a mark of respect to Cox. Ukip member Waqas Ali Khan will stand as an independent and Jack Buckby will stand for the rightwing party Liberty GB.
The byelection will be held on 20 October and Labour is widely expected to retain the seat it has held since 1997.
In an email to Labour members earlier this month, the party invited candidates to apply to be Labour’s candidate in the seat. A longlist of applicants was interviewed by the party’s national executive committee in London on 19 September before the shortlist was announced.
The party does not publish longlists of applicants because some candidates want to remain anonymous in case they apply to stand in other constituencies. Applicants were required to have been members of the Labour party for 12 months prior to 16 June.
Brabin, who is from Batley and frequently campaigned with Cox, paid tribute to the late MP at her funeral in July, calling her a “true inspiration and an extraordinary woman”. Brabin said at the time that her mother, Betty, was attending a craft session in Birstall library when Cox was killed outside.
She was educated at Heckmondike grammar school and studied drama at Loughborough University. Brabin later completed an MA in screenwriting at the London College of Communication in 2001.
She played Tricia Armstrong in Coronation Street from 1994-97, Roxy Drake in EastEnders in 2001 and Carole in Emmerdale in 2014. Brabin has also written for shows including Heartbeat, Shameless, Family Affairs, Crossroads and Hollyoaks.
Speaking after the selection hustings, Brabin said: “This was a byelection none of us wanted, brought about by tragic circumstances.
“Jo Cox was a friend of mine – she was a wonderful person and an absolutely outstanding MP for the constituency which she, like me, was proud to have grown up in and call home.”
She said that, while no one could replace Jo Cox, she hoped to be a “loud, proud and strong Yorkshire voice” speaking up for the people of Batley and Spen.
“I want to reassure people who have voted for other parties in the past – parties which are not contesting this election – that if elected I will stand up for you just as much as I will for Labour voters.
“I am the only candidate in this election who can stand up for everyone, bringing our community together rather than dividing it.”
Labour MPs went on Twitter to congratulate Brabin.
Lucy Powell, who represents Manchester Central, said: “Congratulations Tracy4MP. Terrible circumstances and impossible to replace Jo but she would want strong representation for constituents.”
Liz McInnes, the Heywood and Middleton MP, said: “Congratulations on your selection Tracy4MP. Wish it could have been in better circumstances but sure Jo would have approved X.”
Ilford North’s Wes Streeting said: “Jo is irreplaceab