Thursday, 30 June 2022 – 21:32
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Double defeat for Johnson

Boris Johnson suffered a double blow as the Conservative Party lost two by elections: Wakefield and Tiverton & Honiton.

Both constituencies represented opposite ends of the Conservative coalition that Johnson had built in the 2019 general election, with Wakefield being a former red wall seat that went to the Conservatives for the first time since the 1930s in 2019.

Tiverton & Honiton meanwhile represented the traditional Conservative heartlands in the south; the Devon constituency had elected a Conservative in every election since its creation.

Wakefield had been heavily projected to return to Labour hands, with a rebound in Labour support in the red wall since early-2022. The party eventually secured a majority 5,000, the same amount as the Conservatives had held the seat by.

Tiverton & Honiton was a far more shocking defeat. A traditional Conservative stronghold, the party had a majority of more than 20,000, gaining 60% of the vote in 2019. However, in the wake of Neil Parish resigning for watching pornography in the House of Commons, a Liberal Democrat surge saw the third largest by-election swing in history.

The constituency is adjacent to the North Shropshire seat that the Liberal Democrats also gained from the Conservatives earlier this year, where they overturned a similar-sized majority.

In the wake of the twin defeats, the Conservative Party Chairman Oliver Dowden resigned his post in a letter which seemed to suggest that the prime minister needed to step up and take responsibility for the current poor performance of the party.

The dual defeats marks a run of poor results for the prime minister following Party Gate. The Conservative Party has lost the last 3 elections triggered by resignations, as well as losing in Chesham and Amersham to the Liberal Democrats in April 2021.

Following the result, the Liberal Democrats held an event in Tiverton & Honiton, where party leader Ed Davey said it was time to show Boris Johnson the door.

The pair of results will cause real worries to both Boris Johnson and backbench MPs with it highlight crumbling support in the two opposite ends of the prime minister’s coalition of support.

Current projections of the Westminster voting intention suggest that if an election were held tomorrow, more than 100 Conservative MPs would lose their seats, including the prime minister, and deputy prime minister, Dominic Raab.

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