Boris Johnson’s authority has taken a double hit after the Tories suffered humiliating defeats in two parliamentary by-elections.
The contests in Wakefield, West Yorkshire and Tiverton and Honiton, Devon, were triggered by the resignation of two disgraced Tories.
Former Conservative MP for Wakefield Imran Ahmad Khan quit after being convicted of sexual assault earlier this year, a crime for which he received an 18-month jail term.
Meanwhile, Neil Parish quit his seat after being caught watching pornography in the House of Commons. He had initially claimed to have been looking for a website about tractors.
Who won the by-election in Wakefield?
Simon Lightwood has been elected as the new MP for Wakefield, winning with a majority of 4,925 votes on a swing of 12.7% from the Tories to Labour.
Wakefield had continuously been a Labour seat from 1932 until 2019 when it was won for the Conservatives by Imran Ahmad Khan as part of the Tories’ takeover of so-called red wall constituencies across the north of England.
Mr Lightwood claimed Labour is “rebuilding the red wall” as the party reclaimed the West Yorkshire seat from the Tories.
In his victory speech, he said: “Tonight, the people of Wakefield have spoken on behalf of the British people. They have said unreservedly: ‘Boris Johnson, your contempt for this country is no longer tolerated’.
“It’s not acceptable that a quarter of our children in Wakefield live in poverty, it’s not acceptable that hundreds of people leave A and E every month without being treated because of record NHS waiting times, and it’s not acceptable that convictions for crimes like robbery have fallen by almost half in the past five years.
“People in Wakefield and across the country are sick of the deceit and dishonesty of this government.”
Mr Lightwood later told reporters that the biggest issue on the doorstep throughout the campaign had been the cost of living crisis.
He added: “We’re rebuilding the trust of the electorate and people are ready for a fresh start. They’re sick of all the lies and deceit of Boris Johnson and we offer that alternative vision.”
Asked whether the success would translate into other red wall seats across the north, he said: “I think we can be certain of that.”
What has Keir Starmer said about the win?
Sir Keir Starmer has said that the win in Wakefield marks a “huge result” for the party and is “absolutely” a brick back in Labour’s red wall.
The Labour leader met campaigners at Ossett Market on Friday alongside newly-elected Wakefield MP Simon Lightwood, as the party celebrated its victory.
Sir Keir said the Conservatives were “absolutely imploding” after Tory party co-chairman Oliver Dowden resigned following the results, saying “if the Tories had any decency they would get out the way for the next Labour government”.
He said: “What a judgment this is on the Tories and Boris Johnson – out of touch, out of ideas, and if they had any decency they would get out the way for the sake of the country.
“When we do form that next Labour government, and we’re going to do it, Wakefield will go down as the birthplace of that.
“This puts us now absolutely on track for a Labour government, which is absolutely coming.”
Saying that 12.69% was a “significant” swing towards Labour, Sir Keir added: “That tells you that the next government is going to be a Labour government and the sooner the better, because the country voted yesterday in both by-elections, no confidence in this out-of-touch, out-of-ideas government.
“This is a historic by-election as far as we’re concerned.”