Boris Johnson’s leadership of the Tory Party suffered a double blow as voters rejected the Conservatives in two troubled by-elections.
Lever Dowden has resigned as chairman of the Conservative Party following the defeat, saying in a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson that “someone must take responsibility”.
In Tiverton and Honiton the Liberal Democrats reversed a 24,000 Tory majority to win, while Labor reclaimed Wakefield.
The contests, triggered by the resignation of the disgraced Tories, gave voters the chance to give their verdict on the prime minister just weeks after 41% of their own lawmakers voted 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 viewed pornography on his phone in the House of Commons.
A dramatic swing of about 30% from the Tories to the Liberal Democrats saw Richard Ford secure a majority of 6,144.
The new Lib Dem MP used his acceptance speech to call on Mr Johnson to “go, and go now”, claiming his victory “sent a blow through British politics”.
Mr Ford said: “The people of Tiverton and Honiton have spoken for Britain. They sent a loud and clear message – the time has come for Boris Johnson to leave and leave.”
He added that “with Boris Johnson clinging to office every day, he brings more shame, chaos and neglect”.
In a message to the prime minister, Mr Ford, a former army chief, said: “I can tell you that leadership means acting with decency and integrity.
“It means speaking out. It means setting an example and putting the needs of others before my own. I served with friends who upheld these values, and laid down my life in the service of my country.
“And yet your behavior mocks leadership, Mr. Johnson. By any measure, you are unfit to lead.”
The Liberal Democrats said Mr Ford had overturned the largest majority in the history of the by-election.
This was the sixth-largest swing against the government in by-elections since 1945, where both the seat and the incumbent changed hands.
Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey said: “This should be a wake-up call to all Conservative MPs who are backing Boris Johnson.
“They can’t ignore this result.”
He said it was “time for Conservative MPs to finally do the right thing and sack them”.
A Tory source said it was a “disappointing but not unexpected result” and “we are confident that we will regain this seat at the next general election”.
In Wakefield, Simon Lightwood was elected by a majority of 4,925 on a 12.7% swing from the Tories to Labor.
Previous Wakefield MP Imran Ahmed Khan stepped down 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 Walled seats in the 2019 general election, having been in Labor since the 1930s.
Mr Lightwood said: “The people of Wakefield have spoken on behalf of the British people.
“He said unconditionally: Boris Johnson, your contempt for this country will no longer be tolerated.”
Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “Wakefield has shown that the country has lost faith in the Tories.
“This result is a clear decision on a conservative party that has run out of energy and ideas. Britain deserves better.”
He said the results showed Labor “is on the side of the working people, where we lost earlier, and is winning ready seats for government”.
Mr Johnson, who is at a Commonwealth leaders’ summit in Rwanda, suggested it would be “crazy” for him to step down if the party loses two seats, and said a mid-term by-election “will never be easy for any government”. Were”.