Tories brace for trouble as votes count in by-election

Boris Johnson faces a potential two-seat loss to the Conservatives as votes are counted in a by-election, which could lead to more questions about his leadership.

appropriations were made in Wakefield, Tiverton and Honiton after contests initiated by Conservative MPs who resigned in disgrace.

As Labor defies the red wall in West Yorkshire and the Liberal Democrats hope to topple the huge Conservative majority in Devon, a Tory defeat will put Mr Johnson under heavy pressure just weeks after 41% of his own MPs said they weren’t trust. in him.

Mr Johnson suggested that it would be “crazy” for him to leave if the party lost two seats and stated that he was “highly hopeful” of the results.


Party officials watch the score at Thornes Park in Wakefield. (Danny Lawson/PA)

The Prime Minister will monitor the results from Rwanda, where he is attending the Commonwealth Leaders’ Summit.

Speaking to broadcasters in the capital Kigali, the prime minister said: “I will follow the results with interest, but always full of optimism and cheerfulness, but most experienced political observers know that by-elections in the midterm are never easy. for any government.

But despite the prime minister’s statements, a senior Tory source acknowledged that the situation looks “extremely difficult” in Devon, where the Conservatives are protecting the majority of more than 24,000 people.

In Wakefield, a Labor campaign source said Sir Keir Starmer’s party would “simply” win the contest and replace Imran Ahmad Khan, who left after being found guilty of sexually abusing a 15-year-old boy, a crime for which he was imprisoned in prison. 18 months.


Former Wakefield Conservative MP Imran Ahmad Khan convicted of molesting teenager (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Wakefield was one of the so-called Red Wall seats won by the Tories in the 2019 general election after being Labor since the 1930s.

In Tiverton and Honiton, Neil Parish – a Conservative MP since 2010 – resigned after he admitted to watching pornography on his phone in the House of Commons.

The Liberal Democrats are hoping to repeat the by-election victory in North Shropshire in December, and in Chesham and Amersham a year ago, taking a seat at the center of the Tories.


Tori Neil Parish resigns as MP for Tiverton and Honiton after viewing pornography in the House of Commons (Chris McAndrew/UK MP/Pennsylvania)

Liberal Democrat MP Christine Jardine said the party’s candidate Richard Foord “stands up for his local community” against “a Conservative party that took people in Devon for granted”.

“Never in the history of British politics has such a large majority been overturned in a by-election. Throughout this campaign, we have been saying that this is a huge mountain to climb,” she said.

“However, if the Conservative Party loses a significant number of votes in one of its safest seats in the country tonight, tomorrow countless Conservative MPs will look nervously over their shoulders.”

The prime minister urged voters in rural areas to “come out for British food and agriculture” by supporting Tori Helen Herford, a former headmaster.

The loss of the Tory stronghold will be seen as a sign of Mr. Johnson’s declining electoral appeal after partygate and amid the cost-of-living crisis and could spark further backlash against his power.

The Tories face bigger challenges in retaining the Wakefield seat as Labor favorites stand a chance of upsetting the Conservatives’ 2019 majority of 3,358.

Conservative candidate Nadeem Ahmed raised eyebrows when he said last week that voters should still trust the party after Mr Khan’s sexual assault conviction, just as they still trust general practitioners despite the mass murderer’s crimes. Harold Shipman.

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


Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer told supporters in Wakefield that a victory there could herald the next Labor government (Dave Higgens/Pennsylvania).

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

Shabana Mahmood, Labor’s National Campaign Coordinator, said: “Labor campaigned positively with fantastic candidates in both by-elections, but we know that in order to secure seats, many Conservative voters have to move to Labor, which is harder in a by-election. where low turnout is common.

“Wakefield has been a marginal constituency since Labor last won the general election, and the Conservatives have the largest majority seats since 2010, making the task challenging.”