Boris Johnson’s leadership of the Conservative party suffered a double whammy when voters rejected the Conservatives in two secondary elections.
n Tiverton and Honiton, the Liberal Democrats toppled a majority of 24,000 Conservatives to win, while Labor claimed Wakefield.
The disputes, sparked by the resignation of disgraced Conservatives, offered 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 Conservative MP who won more than 60% of the vote in 2019 – resigned after admitting he had watched pornography on his phone in the House of Commons.
A dramatic shift of nearly 30% from Conservatives to Liberal Democrats saw Richard Foord secure a majority of 6,144.
The new Lib Dem MP used his acceptance speech to urge Johnson to “go, and go now”, claiming his victory had “sent a shockwave through British politics”.
Foord said: “The people of Tiverton and Honiton spoke for Britain. They sent a message loud and clear – it’s time for Boris Johnson to go, and go now.”
He said that “every day Boris Johnson clings to the post, it brings more shame, chaos and neglect”.
In a message to the prime minister, Foord, a former army major, said: “I can say that leadership means acting with decency and integrity.
“It means keeping your word. It means setting an example and putting other people’s needs before your own. I served alongside friends who embodied these values and gave their lives in the service of their country.
“And yet your behavior, Mr. Johnson, mocks leadership. By any measure, you are incapable of leading. ”
Liberal Democrats said Foord toppled the biggest majority in midterm election history.
It was the sixth biggest blow against a government since 1945 in secondary elections in which both the chair and the incumbent changed hands.
In Wakefield, Simon Lightwood was elected with a majority of 4,925 in a 12.7% turn from Conservatives to Labour.
Wakefield’s former MP, Imran Ahmad Khan, resigned after being found guilty of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy – a crime for which he was sentenced to 18 months in prison.
Wakefield was one of the so-called red wall seats won by the Conservatives in the 2019 general election, after being Labor since the 1930s.
Lightwood said: “The people of Wakefield spoke on behalf of the British people.
“They said without reservation: Boris Johnson, your contempt for this country is no longer tolerated.”
Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “Wakefield has shown that the country has lost confidence in the Conservatives.
“This result is a clear judgment on a Conservative Party that has run out of energy and ideas. Britain deserves better.”
He said the result showed the Labor Party “is back on the side of the workers, gaining seats where we lost before and ready for government”.
Johnson, who is at a summit of Commonwealth leaders in Rwanda, suggested it would be “crazy” for him to step down if the party lost both seats and said mid-term elections “are never necessarily easy for any government”.