Nominations close for Copeland and Stoke-on-Trent Central by-elections

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Nominations for candidates standing in two key by-election battlegrounds have closed, as Labour look to hold off challenges in both seats.

In Stoke-on-Trent Central in the West Midlands, Labour's Gareth Snell will hope to retain a constituency the party has held since its creation in 1950 and where it holds a majority of 5,179.

He is facing a challenge for the seat from the leader of Ukip, Paul Nuttall, who will be looking to gain a place in parliament at his fifth attempt.

Also standing is the Conservative Party's Jack Brereton; Dr Zulfiqar Ali for the Liberal Democrats and Adam Colclough for the Green Party.

Appearing alongside them on the ballot will be the Christian People's Alliance's Godfrey Davies, with The Incredible Flying Brick representing the Official Monster Raving Loony Party.

Also standing for election are Mohammed Akram, independent, Barbara Fielding, independent, and David Furness of the British National Party Local People First.

The by-election was triggered by the resignation of Tristram Hunt, who stepped down to become director of the Victoria and Albert museum.

In Copeland in Cumbria, Gillian Troughton is standing for Labour with Trudy Harrison for the Conservatives, Rebecca Hanson for the Liberal Democrats and Fiona Mills for Ukip.

Also on the ballot are the Green Party's Jack Lenox, together with Roy Ivinson and Michael Guest, who are both standing as independents.

The by-election was triggered after the resignation of Jamie Reed, who has moved to take up a job at the Sellafield nuclear plant.

Labour is defending a majority of 2,564 in Copeland.

Voters in both constituencies will go to the polls on February 23.