Boris Johnson suffers double by-election humiliation

The Liberal Democrats won Tiverton and Honiton, which had previously been held by the Tories with a 24,000 majority, while Labour won Wakefield.

24 June 2022

Boris Johnson’s leadership of the Tory party suffered a double blow as voters rejected the Conservatives in two crunch by-elections.

In Tiverton and Honiton the Liberal Democrats overturned a 24,000 Tory majority to win, while Labour reclaimed Wakefield.

The contests, triggered by the resignation of disgraced Tories, offered voters the chance to give their verdict on the Prime Minister just weeks after 41% of his own MPs cast their ballots against him.

In Tiverton and Honiton, Neil Parish – the Tory MP who had more than 60% of the vote in 2019 – resigned after admitting he had watched pornography on his phone in the House of Commons.

A dramatic swing of almost 30% from the Tories to the Liberal Democrats saw Richard Foord secure a majority of 6,144.

The new Lib Dem MP used his acceptance speech to call for Mr Johnson “to go, and go now”, claiming his victory had “sent a shockwave through British politics”.

In Wakefield, Simon Lightwood was elected with a majority of 4,925 on a swing of 12.7% from the Tories to Labour.

Tiverton and Honiton by-election
The Liberal Democrats’ by-election candidate Richard Foord (left) poses for a photograph with his wife Kate after they cast their votes (Andrew Matthews/PA)

The previous Wakefield MP Imran Ahmad Khan quit after being found guilty of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy – a crime for which he was jailed for 18 months.

Wakefield was one of the so-called red wall seats won by the Tories in the 2019 general election after being Labour since the 1930s.

Mr Johnson, who is at a Commonwealth leaders’ summit in Rwanda, suggested it would be “crazy” for him to quit if the party lost the two seats and said mid-term by-elections were “never necessarily easy for any government”.

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