THE Tory party has been hit for six by its two by-election defeats in Tiverton and Honiton and in Wakefield.
Tiverton and Honiton
Lib Dem; Richard Foord 52.9%
Con; Helen Hurford 38.5% Labour; Liz Pole 3.7%
Green; Gill Westcott 2.5%
Reform UK; Andy Foan 1.1%
Labour; Simon Lightwood 47.9%
Con; Ahmed 30.00%
Independent; Akbar 7.6%
The swing to the Liberal Democrats in Tiverton was 29.9%.
Labour’s long wait to take a Conservative seat at a by-election was finally over when they won back Wakefield. The last time Labour gained a seat from the Conservatives, was in Corby in November 2012.
Tory Party chairman, Oliver Dowden, has resigned following the two by-election disasters.
In his letter to Johnson, Dowden he said Tory supporters were ‘distressed and disappointed’.
He wrote: ‘We cannot carry on with business as usual. Somebody must take responsibility and I have concluded that, in these circumstances, it would not be right for me to remain in office.’
Dowden also called his resignation ‘a deeply personal decision that I have taken alone’, following a ‘run of very poor results for our party’.
The by-election results follow months of criticism of the Prime Minister over illegal parties in Downing Street during lockdown.
They also come amid soaring inflation and concerns over the cost of living, and fears that the UK is on the brink of a general strike with the RMT leading the way.
Speaking in Rwanda, where he is attending a Commonwealth heads of government meeting, Johnson said: ‘We’ve got to recognise there is more we’ve got to do and we certainly will.
‘We will keep going, addressing the concerns of people until we get through this patch.’
And, in a letter to Dowden, he wrote that he understood his ‘disappointment’ at the by-election losses, but added that the government had been ‘elected with a historic mandate just over two years ago’.
Johnson is expected to return from Rwanda early to try and secure his premiership.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak also expressed his sadness over Dowden’s departure saying ‘We all take responsibility for the results and I’m determined to continue working to tackle the cost of living, including delivering NICs (National Insurance contribution) changes saving 30 million people on average £330.’
The longer he is away, the greater the plotting will be in Tory ranks to remove him as PM. There have even been suggestions that he should stay in Rwanda!
The Leader of the Welsh Conservatives Andrew RT Davies said, prime ministers ‘have to look in the mirror and ask themselves ‘can they continue to deliver for their country and for the people who have put them into office?’
In Tiverton and Honiton, where former MP Neil Parish quit after he was found watching pornography in the House of Commons, the Lib Dems took 22,537 votes, beating the Conservatives by 6,144. At the last general election the Tories had a 24,239 majority in the mostly rural constituency.
New Liberal Democrat MP Richard Foord said: ‘It’s time for Boris to go.’
He added: ‘Tonight, the people of Tiverton and Honiton have spoken for Britain.
‘They’ve sent a loud and clear message: It’s time for Boris Johnson to go, and go now.’
He added: ‘Nothing reeks of panic quite like a resignation letter at 5.35am.’
In Wakefield, where a Labour victory had been largely expected, the party’s candidate, Simon Lightwood, won by 4,925 votes.
Tory MP Simon Hoare, who has previously been critical of Johnson, called Mr Dowden ‘an honourable man’, adding that he was ‘not responsible’ for the by-election losses.
The biggest collapse took place in Tiverton and Honiton. The outcome there establishes a new record: the largest Conservative percentage majority overturned in a by-election.
It replaces Shropshire North in the top spot, confounding Tories who mistakenly thought that things couldn’t get worse after that mauling.
Coincidentally, the swing then was the same – 12.7% – as in Wakefield, which becomes the seventh-worst Conservative defeat to Labour.
It demonstrates that Boris Johnson’s 80-seat Commons majority – constructed largely from its gain of Labour’s so-called ‘red wall’ seats, including Wakefield, has feet of clay.