Prime Minister Boris Johnson during his speech at Blackpool and The Fylde College in Blackpool, Lancashire where he announced new measures to potentially help millions onto the property ladder. Picture date: Thursday June 9, 2022. (Photo: Peter Byrne via PA Wire/PA Images)
Boris Johnson has suffered a double by-election nightmare after the Tories lost two seats in just five minutes.
First, Labour’s Simon Lightwood regained the Red Wall seat of Wakefield in west Yorkshire.
Then, just moments later, it was confirmed that Lib Dem candidate Richard Foord had pulled off a stunning result in Tiverton and Honiton, overturning a 24,000 Conservative majority.
The results come less than three weeks after 148 of Johnson’s own MPs voted against a motion of confidence in his leadership.
In Wakefield, Labour overturned the Tories’ 3,358 majority to win by 4,925 votes - a swing of 12.7 per cent.
If that were repeated at the next general election, it would be enough to give Starmer an overall majority.
And in Tiverton and Honiton, the Lib Dems won by 6,144 votes on an extraordinary 30 per cent swing away from the Tories.
It is the first time a governing party has lost two by-elections on the same day since 1991, when John Major was prime minister.
Labour leader Keir Starmer said: “Wakefield has shown the country has lost confidence in the Tories. This result is a clear judgement on a Conservative Party that has run out of energy and ideas. Britain deserves better.
“Wakefield has voted Labour because we have the solutions for the challenges facing the British people. The Labour Party is back on the side of working people, winning seats where we lost before, and ready for government.”
Lib Dem leader Ed Davey said his party had “made political history”.
“This should be a wake-up call for all those Conservative MPs propping up Boris Johnson,” he said. “They cannot afford to ignore this result.
“The people of Tiverton and Honiton have spoken for the country. The public is sick of Boris Johnson’s lies and law-breaking and it’s time for Conservative MPs to finally do the right thing and sack him.”
Although it is not unusual for governments to lose by-elections, the sheer scale of the reversal in Tory fortunes since 2019 will concern MPs who will now believe their own seats are at risk.
Johnson, who is 4,000 miles away in Rwanda at a Commonwealth heads of government summit, yesterday rejected suggestions that he would have to quit if he lost both by-elections.
He said: “I’m going to be watching the results with interests but always full of optimism and buoyancy but most seasoned political observers know that by-elections in mid-term are never necessarily easy for any government.”
The by-election in Wakefield was called after the sitting Tory MP, Imran Ahmad Khan, quit after being convicted of sexually assaulting a teenage boy.
The Tiverton and Honiton by-election came after Neil Parish resigned as the Tory MP after he admitted watching porn in the Commons.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.