LABOUR is continuing to “fight in Clacton”, Sir Keir Starmer has said, after reports the party had significantly scaled back its campaign in the Essex seat.

Claims that Labour had told activists to campaign elsewhere have sparked accusations that the party is not providing strong enough opposition to Reform UK leader Nigel Farage’s attempt to win the seat.

But speaking to reporters on Thursday, Sir Keir denied that Labour had given up on Clacton.

He said: “We want to take the fight to the Tories and Reform wherever they are, we are not backing down in Clacton, we are not backing down anywhere across the country.”

Labour candidate Jovan Owusu-Nepaul has received significant online attention, both for his campaign against Mr Farage and his sense of style, but the Guardian reported on Thursday he had been “seconded” to campaign in a seat in the West Midlands.

The paper also said that local activists had been denied access to campaigning resources.

Asked if activists were allowed to campaign in Clacton, Sir Keir said: “The chief of operations tells people where we most want them to go and fight, but we have got to fight in Clacton, of course we have.

“We have got an excellent candidate there, he actually works for me, he is fantastic, so I’m very supportive of him and the campaign that he is running, and he is doing something incredible in Clacton which is being that positive candidate in difficult circumstances.”

Labour came a distant second in Clacton in 2019, falling almost 25,000 votes short of Conservative Giles Watling, who is seeking re-election this year.

But the normally safe Tory seat is seen as Reform’s best chance of securing their first elected MP, having voted for a Ukip candidate in 2014 and 2015, when Mr Farage led that party.

Several polls have suggested Mr Farage is on course to become an MP at the eighth time of asking, with the Conservatives and Labour trailing significantly.

The full list of this year's candidates are as follows: Jovan Owusu-Nepaul (Lab), Giles Watling (Conservative), Nigel Farage (Reform UK) Matthew Bensilum (Liberal Democrats), Natasha Osben (Green Party), Tasos Papanastasiou (Heritage Party), Andrew Pemberton (UKIP), Tony Mack (Indpendent) and Craig Jamieson (Climate Party).