Counting of votes in troubled by-elections lands Tory in trouble

Boris Johnson faces a potential loss of two Tory seats as votes are counted in a by-election that could raise further questions about his leadership. Ballots were cast in Wakefield and Tiverton and Honiton after contests that began after Conservative MPs resigned in disgrace.

With Labor challenging the Red Wall seat in West Yorkshire and the Liberal Democrats hoping to overturn the overwhelming Conservative majority in Devon, a defeat for the Tories will put pressure on Mr Johnson when 41% of his own MPs said he would Don’t believe in it.

Mr Johnson has suggested it would be “crazy” for him to step down if the party loses two seats, and claimed he was “very optimistic” about the results. The Prime Minister will be monitoring the results from Rwanda, where he is attending the Commonwealth Leaders’ Summit.

Speaking to broadcasters in the capital Kigali, the prime minister said: “I am going to watch the results with interest, but always full of optimism and enthusiasm, but most seasoned political observers know that by-elections in the mid-term will never happen.” It is not easy for any government.

But despite the prime minister’s claims, a senior Tory source acknowledged the situation was looking “extremely difficult” in the Devon seat, where Conservatives were defending a majority of more than 24,000.

In Wakefield, a Labor campaign source said Sir Keir Starmer’s party would “just win” to replace Imran Ahmed Khan, who stepped down after being found guilty of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy – a crime whose For this he was sent to jail. 18 months. Wakefield was one of the so-called Red Walled seats in the 2019 general election, having been in Labor since the 1930s.

In Tiverton and Honiton, Neil Parish – a Tory MP since 2010 – resigned after admitting to viewing pornography on his phone in the House of Commons. The Liberal Democrats are expected to win a by-election in North Shropshire in December and the Tory Heartland seat in Chesham and Amersham a year earlier.

Lib Dame MP Christine Jardin said the party’s candidate Richard Ford stood “for his local community” against a Conservative party that has taken people in Devon.

“Never in the history of British politics has this large majority been converted into a by-election. We have said throughout this campaign that this is a huge mountain to climb,” she said. “However, if the Conservative Party is today The night the country loses a large number of votes in one of its safest seats, countless Conservative MPs will be looking over their shoulders tomorrow.”

The prime minister urged rural seat voters to support former headteacher Tory Helen Herford to “stay up for British food and farming”. Losing a Tory stronghold would be seen as a sign of Mr Johnson’s dwindling election appeal after partygate and amid a crisis of survival, and could spark another backlash against his authority.

The Tories face a formidable challenge in retaining the Wakefield seat, with Labor odds-on favorites to reverse 2019’s Conservative majority of 3,358. Tory candidate Nadeem Ahmed raised eyebrows last week by arguing that even after Mr Khan’s sexual assault conviction, voters should trust the party just as they still trust the GP, despite the crimes of mass murderer Harold Shipman.

Sir Keir has said that candidate Simon Lightwood’s victory in the Northern constituency “could be the birthplace of the next Labor government”.

If the Conservatives lose both by-elections, it would be only the seventh time a government has suffered such a double defeat since World War II.

Labour’s national campaign coordinator Shabana Mahmood said: “Labor has campaigned positively with great candidates in both by-elections – but we know that taking the seat requires many Tory voters to go to Labor, which Tough by-elections where low turnout is common.

“Wakefield has been a marginal constituency since Labor won a general election last time, and the Conservatives have held the seat with the largest majority since 2010—a tough job.”

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