London politics latest: Nadhim Zahawi insists ‘our voters stayed home’ after disastrous by-election results

·36 min read
London politics latest: Nadhim Zahawi insists ‘our voters stayed home’ after disastrous by-election results

Nadhim Zahawi has claimed Conservative voters staying at home after Tories suffered two defeats in the by-elections on Friday.

After losing Wakefield and Tiverton and Honiton, the Education Secretary said the party must now focus on giving voters a “reason to come back at the next election” and said the Government will be judged on “what we deliver next”.

This comes after former Tory leader Lord Michael Howard said Boris Johnson should resign, as reported by the BBC.

The Corporation’s political editor Chris Mason tweeted: “Former Leader of the Conservative Party Lord Howard tells Jonny Dymond that Boris Johnson should resign. More on BBC Radio 4 at 1pm.”

Despite pressure mounting on the Prime Minister, Mr Johnson vowed to “keep going” despite the Tory party suffering two humiliating defeats in by-elections on Friday, leading to the resignation of party chairman Oliver Dowden.

In Tiverton and Honiton the Liberal Democrats overturned a 24,000 Tory majority to win, while Labour reclaimed Wakefield afetr losing it in 2019.

18:56 , Lily Waddell

Thank you for following our coverage today.

Boris Johnson: ‘No justification’ for airline strikes

17:10 , Josh Salisbury

Speaking shortly before the end of his press conference, Boris Johnson also said he wants people “to get around the table” to solve a dispute over pay with the airlines.

It comes after BA staff voted to strike this summer.

Asked in Rwanda if strikes at the airports risk ruining people’s summer holidays, and if people should consider taking breaks in the UK if they cannot go abroad, he said there is no justification for the industrial action.

“Airlines, like the railways, got very substantial sums of public money in support during the pandemic.

“I don’t think there are justifications for these strikes. But what I want is for people to get around the table and sort it out.”

Boris Johnson faces further questions over future

16:31 , Bill Mcloughlin

Following the resignation of Oliver Dowden, Mr Johnson said he had carried out good work and thanked him.

Mr Johnson, however, says the way forward is to focus on change and improvement which it is delivering, not on personalities.

“I’ve got to be clear, it will take some time and there will be tough times ahead,” he says.

The Prime Minister then adds that he expects further “people will beat him up”.

He concludes the press conference by praising what he has seen so far at the summit and said Rwanda is a “remarkable country”.

Boris Johnson: Roe vs Wade decision a big step backwards

16:22 , Bill Mcloughlin

Asked by Politico following the Roe vs Wade decision, Mr Johnson said it was a “big steps backwards”.

On taxation, Mr Johnson said there will be cuts beginning from next month and that the Government is reducing council tax.

“It shows the direction we’re trying to go in”, Mr Johnson said. “The £1,200 we are giving families is very important.”

Boris Johnson: I don’t discuss questions with royals

16:17 , Bill Mcloughlin

Following his conversation with the Prince of Wales, Mr Johnson refused to comment on the content of their chat.

He added: “It was a good old chinwag. And we certainly covered a lot of ground.”

Commenting again on his position, Mr Johnson said ministers are busy “delivering on our agenda” at a time when support for the Prime Minister is being quesionted.

The Prime Minister is again asked on losing the Tiverton and Honiton seat, to which Mr Johnson said he is focused on “fixing the issues” in the economy.

He then committs to having the best tax framework in the UK for businesses and the public.

Boris Johnson: We must make sure we continue to help people

16:11 , Bill Mcloughlin

The Prime Minister is then asked if he is still an electoral asset, to which he insists the Government has a plan and he wants to get on with it.

He is then asked if he considered resigning and if he is planning to call the army in over the strikes.

Mr Johnson said the airlines and railways received “substantial support” during the pandemic.

The Prime Minister insists that there is no justification for the strikes, adding: “This is a Government which is putting huge sums into our railways.”

Boris Johnson stands firm despite by-election defeats

16:07 , Bill Mcloughlin

During a press conference from Rwanda, the Prime Minister is aksed on his position back in the UK following the by-election losses.

He said that the results were “not brilliant” and that the Government must “listen and learn”.

He concludes that he “has a plan for the economy to get it back through to the other side”.

Nadhimz Zahawi pledges to deliver for UK

15:51 , Bill Mcloughlin

Layla Moran questions Lib Dems’ choice of font during door stunt...

14:45 , Sami Quadri

By-election defeats ‘not an indictment of the PM’

14:35 , Sami Quadri

The Tories’ by-election defeats are not an “indictment” of the Prime Minister, Conservative Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen has said.

Asked about calls by former Conservative Party leader Michael Howard for Boris Johnson to resign, Mr Houchen told BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme: “Obviously what he said should be listened to.”

He pointed to the “complicated” and multi-faceted reasons behind the results, saying he agreed with voters’ concerns over rising prices and that “the Government isn’t moving as quickly as I would like” on tackling the crisis.

“Ultimately the responsibility does lie with the Prime Minister for all of those reasons … cost of living, inflation all of those things … People will look at the Prime Minister for direction of travel and that’s what he needs to get a grip of,” Mr Houchen said.

He argued it would look “ridiculous” for the party to have a leadership contest in this context.

Angela Rayner mocks PM over Rwanda visit

14:26 , Sami Quadri

Lord Howard does not think Boris Johnson will resign

14:15 , Sami Quadri

Lord Howard told BBC Radio 4’s World at One he does not think it is very likely Boris Johnson will resign, but “there are others who can take action who could make that course come about”.

Asked if there were people he would already consider potential replacements, he said: “That will be a matter for, first of all, Members of Parliament in the Conservative Party, and then for the membership.

“But there are certainly people in the party who could, I think, take over the leadership and provide the country with the kind of leadership that it needs.”

Lord Howard said the electorate “delivered its verdict” on Boris Johnson with the double defeat for the Tories in Yorkshire and Devon, adding “it can’t continue as business as usual”.

He added: “I always thought that the culture of No 10 at the time of recent events was unacceptable. Indeed, I think the Prime Minister himself belatedly recognised that.

“That culture came from the top and the only person who was responsible for it was the Prime Minister.

“Now, that view was my view and I’m only one person. But what I think yesterday makes clear is that my view is shared by very large numbers of people in Yorkshire and in Devon, places so different that I think they can reasonably be regarded as representative of the country as a whole.

“So, I think that yesterday the electorate delivered its verdict. As Oliver Dowden has said, it can’t continue as business as usual.”

Lisa Nandy hails Wakefield victory as ‘stunning result’

14:06 , Sami Quadri

Labour’s by-election victory in Wakefield was a “stunning result”, shadow secretary for levelling up Lisa Nandy said.

She told BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme: “What’s being lost in all of this is that Wakefield is not a safe Labour seat.”

Ms Nandy said she had been pessimistic after Wakefield was won by the Tories in the 2019 general election.

But she said Labour leader Keir Starmer has “sorted out the problems in the party” and has “persuaded people to have a fresh look at us”.

“We’ll never be complacent … but this is a stunning result for the Labour Party and it really has lifted us right across the country”.

Nadine Dorries: We must be relentless in cracking on with the job

13:49 , Bill Mcloughlin

The Culture Secretary has insisted the Tories must continue to do the job after suffering two election defeats on Thursday.

She said: “ Last night was a reminder that we must be relentless in cracking on with the job of delivering. Under Boris Johnson we are massively investing in digital infrastructure which is accelerating growth and employment in our rapidly expanding tech sectors.

“However, History tells us how useless by election results are as an indication of absolutely anything at all.

“Margaret Thatcher would not have won 3 GEs and would have served for a very short time as PM if some of the claims I’ve heard today were based on a shred of substance.

“This gov will remain relentlessly focused and continue to deliver for people during a post pandemic, mid-war, global cost of living challenge which no Prime Minister or gov has faced the likes of since WW11.”

Boris Johnson needs to ‘look in the mirror'

13:32 , Bill Mcloughlin

Leader of the Welsh Conservatives Andrew RT Davies has said Boris Johnson needs to "look in the mirror" and ask himself whether he should stay in office.

"Each and every day the Prime Minister gets up, like any leader, they have to look in the mirror and ask themselves 'can they continue to deliver for their country and for the people who have put them into office?'

"I presume that's getting far more challenging when the Prime Minister looked in the mirror these days with the messages that are coming from the ballot box such as by-elections we had last night."

Another MP backs Boris Johnson

13:18 , Bill Mcloughlin

Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Simon Clarke has backed Boris Johnson to continue in his role.

By-election losses ‘humiliating’ for PM, says Nicola Sturgeon

13:07 , Bill Mcloughlin

Losses in two by-elections have been a "monumental, massive, humiliating vote of no confidence" in the Prime Minister, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

Speaking from the Royal Highland Show on Friday, Scottish First Minister Ms Sturgeon urged Tory MPs to remove the Prime Minister.

"It's a monumental, massive, humiliating vote of no confidence in Boris Johnson," she said.

"People could see it coming 100 miles off and it should send a very strong message - if not to Boris Johnson, who is impervious to all of these things given his arrogance, it should send a very strong message to the Conservatives.

"If they keep Boris Johnson, a law breaking Prime Minister who has been seen to not tell the truth, if they keep him in office, then effectively they are all becoming complicit in this.

"If this is not a wake-up call to the Conservative Party, then it will just prove beyond doubt that they don't have the interests of any part of the UK in mind or at heart."

Boris Johnson wouldn’t survive second confidence vote, says Michael Heseltine

12:34 , Bill Mcloughlin

Speaking to Sky News, former Conservative deputy prime minister, Lord Michael Heseltine has said Boris Johnson would not win a second confidence vote.

He added: “I would guess that it’s the chairman of the 22 that will be the focal point of discontent. Sir Graham Brady has a lonely job to do and I don’t envy him.

“But it’s to him that people will go and say, ‘Look, we can’t go on like this’. And he, perhaps one or two other senior members of the House of Commons, would be deputed to talk to the prime minister. I would expect that’s the most likely situation.”

Pictures from Ed Davey’s trip to to Tiverton and Honiton

12:04 , Bill Mcloughlin

Ed Davey (PA)
Ed Davey (PA)
Ed Davey (REUTERS)
Ed Davey (REUTERS)
 (PA)
(PA)

Former Tory leader Lord Michael Howards says Boris Johnson should resign

11:55 , Bill Mcloughlin

Speaking on BBC Radio 4, the former leader fo the party said the Prime Minister should resign, adding “the party and more importantly the country would be better off under new leadership”.

He then said: “Members of the Cabinet should very carefully consider their positions.

“It may be necessary for the executive of the 1922 committee to meet and to decide to change the rules so another leadership could take place.”

Ed Davey delivers speech in Tiverton and Honiton

11:39 , Bill Mcloughlin

Following his party’s victory in the seat, the Lib Dem leader gave a speech saying: “When we beat them a year ago, in Chesham and Amersham, they said they’d lost because of a small local matter.

“When we beat them six months ago in North Shropshire, they said they’d chosen the wrong candidate.

“When we beat them last month - in Somerset, in Cumbria, in Wimbledon, in Woking - they chalked it up to ‘typical mid-term blues’.

“The spinners in Number 10 call this ‘expectation management’. But I can tell Number 10 - the British people are sick of having their expectations managed.

“For years, Boris Johnson has told people things will get better. But under his leadership, things only get worse.

“So let me tell the prime minister what the British people expect: they expect our country to be led. And he has shown no leadership, whatsoever.”

Election was ‘incredibly disappointing’ says Andrea Leadsom

11:12 , Bill Mcloughlin

Former Cabinet minister, Andrea Leadsom has said the election results in Wakefield and Tiverton and Honiton are “incredibly disappointing” in a tweet.

MP back Boris Johnson despite election defeats

10:54 , Bill Mcloughlin

Tory MP for Dudley North, Marco Longhi told the Standard he has “full confidence” in the Prime minister.

He added: “This is undoubtedly a big disappointment. People always expect results, and we have been slow, but also hampered by lockdowns that weren’t in anybody’s manifesto.

“We need to double down on delivering for people and show results on the top priorities people voted for.

“As far as tonight’s results go, we’ve been here before several times when government parties lose heavily in by-elections and then win back at a general election. Delivery is key now.”

Rishi Sunak comments on election loss

10:34 , Bill Mcloughlin

Rishi Sunak has said “we all take responsiblity” for the party’s poor election results in a tweet this morning.

Sir John Curtice: Tories in trouble but Keir Starmer still missing crucial spark

10:19 , Bill Mcloughlin

Boris Johnson’s party is “in trouble” but Sir Keir Starmer has yet to spark the “crucial ingredient” of enthusiasm for Labour which led to Tony Blair’s 1997 victory, according to one of Britain’s leading elections experts

Sir John Curtice, Professor of Politics at Strathclyde University, stressed that Mr Johnson’s by-election record is the worst since John Major’s goverrment.

He emphasised that this was partly down to Labour and Liberal Democrat voters now “ganging up” to vote tactically to beat Tory candidates.

Many disaffected Conservative voters, he added, were not necessarily though turning to Labour to voice their “protest”.

Read our story here.

Tory MP reiterates no confidence in Boris Johnson

10:11 , Bill Mcloughlin

Tory MP, Jesse Norman who withdrew his support of the Prime Minister in June, has taken to social media to retweet his no confidence letter.

He accompanied the tweet with a section of that letter where he claims the party is more likely to lose the next election due to Mr Johnson’s leadership.

MPs must discuss long-term position of the Prime Minister, says former MP Neil Parish

10:05 , Bill Mcloughlin

The former MP for Tiverton and Honiton - who resigned after watching porn in the Commons - told Radio Devon: “What is becoming increasingly necessary for the party and the MPs to discuss what is the long term position of the prime minister. The public are concerned.

“You cannot ignore people. It was a very safe seat. I’m afraid at the moment there is too much distraction and we are not getting on with the job.

“We are all expendable. That is the issue, is Boris a winner or isn’t he? That will be the issue for MPs going forward.

“He can make that decision and he alone will make that decision. You cannot ignore people and you ask them their verdict - and it’s clear their verdict this morning and it is for the PM to look at it very seriously.”

Boris Johnson will plough on, says David Gauke

09:31 , Bill Mcloughlin

In a tweet this morning, the former Justice Secretary claimed the Prime Minister will “plough on” despite the two “terrible” election losses.

He did add, however, that moves by senior ministers may change the Prime Minister’s standing in the party.

Patel continues defence of party following double-election defeat

09:13 , Bill Mcloughlin

Speaking to Times Radio, the Home Secretary said the loss of Oliver Dowden was a “loss” for the Government.

Refelecting on the Government’s position, she added: “What I would say is we have gone through very publicly a very difficult period. It’s important that we reflect on these results.

“We fought these against a difficult and challenging backdrop.”

Conservatives must have ‘moment of reflection’ following results, says Priti Patel

08:49 , Elly Blake

Priti Patel said it is “important and right” the Conservatives have a “moment of reflection” following the by-election results.

“It’s right that we listen to the voters from both of those constituencies, it’s right that we carry on with our service to them, but also recognise the issues that they themselves are raising and have raised on the doorstep, I went to both by-elections too, and we get on with the job,” the home secretary told LBC.

Asked if she thought there would be more resignations, after Oliver Dowden stood down as Tory Party chairman, she said: “I don’t, because, as I’ve said, you know, to govern is hard, and to govern we make choices and decisions, and we are working night and day, I can give you that assurance… focusing on these big issues.”

Sir Keir Starmer hails ‘historic’ by-election result

08:44 , Elly Blake

Sir Keir Starmer said the win in Wakefield was a “huge result for the Labour Party”.

He told reporters in Ossett: “This puts us now absolutely on track for a Labour government, which is absolutely coming.”

Sir Keir Starmer and Simon Lightwood (PA)
Sir Keir Starmer and Simon Lightwood (PA)

Saying that 12.69 per cent was a “significant” swing towards Labour, Sir Keir said: “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.”

Raab says by-election losses ‘were result of the perfect storm'

08:41 , Elly Blake

Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab has described the Conservative party losses in the by-elections being the result of a “perfect storm”.

Speaking on the Today programme on BBC Radio 4, he said: “My view is that the by-elections, both of them, were the result of the perfect storm of very difficult local scenarios, given the situations of the previously sitting Conservative MPs, plus the national headwinds, first of all, inevitably, for a mid-term government, but also, frankly, the distractions that we’ve had.

“I think the Prime Minister put it well: we need to listen very carefully, we need to take that feedback.

“I think (with) Tiverton, the most striking thing is how many of our supporters didn’t come out. We need to spend the next two years absolutely relentlessly focused on delivering our plan, without those distractions and with a real calm focus on delivering.”

Tobias Ellwood says Oliver Dowden’s resignation ‘honourable'

08:32 , Elly Blake

Senior Tory MP Tobias Ellwood said Oliver Dowden’s resignation was “honourable”.

Sharing a copy of Mr Dowden’s letter of resignation to the Prime Minister, he tweeted simply: “Honourable.”

‘The beginning of the end’: Former Tory MP Rory Stewart

08:28 , Elly Blake

Former Conservative MP and minister Rory Stewart said Oliver Dowden’s resignation “feels like the beginning of the end” for Boris Johnson.

Sharing a copy of Mr Dowden’s resignation letter, he tweeted: “A devastating resignation for Boris Johnson because it comes from one of his earliest and most passionate supporters, who backed many of his cultural fights, and risked his reputation defending him for years.

“This feels like the beginning of the end.”

Pictured: Sir Keir Starmer celebrates Labour win in Wakefield

08:25 , Elly Blake

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has said that the “Tory party is absolutely imploding” following the two by-election losses it has suffered.

He said: “They know they are out of ideas and out of touch. If they had any decency they would get out the way for the next Labour government.”

Sir Keir was seen celebrating with Wakefield’s new MP Simon Lightwood on Friday morning.

He added: “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.”

Prior to the Conservatives winning Wakefield in 2019, which saw it turn blue by 3,358 votes, the West Yorkshire constituency had been a Labour stronghold since 1932.

Sir Keir Starmer and Simon Lightwood (PA)
Sir Keir Starmer and Simon Lightwood (PA)
 (PA)
(PA)
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

‘I completely understand your disappointment’: PM writes to Oliver Dowden following resignation

08:20 , Elly Blake

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has told Oliver Dowden he “completely” understands his disappointment with the by-election results.

Writing to Mr Dowden following his resignation as Tory Party chairman, Mr Johnson said: “Thank you for your letter and I am sad to see you leave Government.

“As Minister for the Cabinet Office, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and Co-Chairman of the Conservative Party, it has been a pleasure to work alongside you for the last three years.

“In each of those roles you have given your best and focused on delivering for the British people.

“Whilst I completely understand your disappointment with the by-election results, this Government was elected with a historic mandate just over two years ago to unite and level up. I look forward to continuing to work together on that.”

Priti Patel stands in for Oliver Dowden during morning media rounds after shock resignation

08:19 , Elly Blake

Home Secretary Priti Patel said the Prime Minister told her the Government is “cracking on with task” after the double by-election defeats.

Asked what Boris Johnson said to her following the results, she told LBC: “The fact of the matter is that we’re cracking on with the task.”

Pressed on what the PM said, she said: “Yes, exactly that, absolutely, that we are carrying on, working to grow our economy and address the cost of living… and providing the leadership that we need in challenging times.

“We do that collectively, we really do as one Government working together.”

Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown: Clearly these by-election results are pretty dire

08:17 , Elly Blake

Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, treasurer of the 1922 Committee of Tory Backbench MPs, has told the Standard: “Clearly these by-election results are pretty dire.

“The Prime Minister will now have to set out clearly to the country and to the party how he is going to move forward to resolve the very serious problems that the country faces.

“The Parliamentary Party and the Cabinet will then have to decide whether that is a satisfactory path or whether we should trigger a leadership contest.”

Mr Johnson won a confidence vote by 211 to 148 at the start of June and the current party rules mean that another such ballot cannot happen for another year.

Read the full article here.

Lord Frost: by-election results ‘terrible’ for Tories but not particularly good for Lib Dems or Labour

08:08 , Elly Blake

Former Brexit minister Lord Frost has said both by-election results are “terrible for the Conservatives”.

But he added: “Neither is particularly good for the Lib Dems or Labour”.

Writing on twitter, he said: “In Tiverton there was some Lab/Lib switching, but their total vote as a share of the whole *electorate* only went up from from 25% to 29%. The Tory vote collapsed from 43% to just under 20%. Nearly 20,000 of our voters stayed at home. That’s why we lost.

“In Wakefield turnout was extremely low. The Lab/Lib vote actually fell, from 28% to 20%. But the Tory vote fell even further, from 30% to 12%. That’s why we lost.”

Lord Frost added: “So, in contrast to many ‘normal’ mid-term by-elections, these do not show strong protest votes for the opposition. They show people who voted for us in 2019 refusing to come out and do so again. We as Conservatives must decide why that is, and what we do about it.”

He served as the UK’s main negotiator in the Brexit talks with the EU.

Watch: PM reacts to by-election losses and Oliver Dowden’s resignation

08:04 , Elly Blake

Tory MP: PM has ‘trashed the reputation’ of the party

08:02 , Elly Blake

Veteran Tory MP Sir Roger Gale said Boris Johnson had “trashed” the reputation of the Conservative Party.

He said the PM was choosing to “hang onto the door handle at No 10” but “it can’t go on forever and it certainly won’t go on until the next general election”.

Asked if he saw Oliver Dowden’s resignation as a trigger for more expressions of discontent from the Cabinet, he told BBC Breakfast: “It is possible that that may happen but it is up to my colleagues in the Cabinet to decide whether they can go on supporting a Prime Minister who, frankly, has trashed the reputation of the Conservative Party, my party, for honesty, for decency, for integrity and for compassion.”

Sir Roger said the Tories were “spoilt for choice” for new leaders.

Asked who he would like to see in Mr Johnson’s place, he said: “I’m not playing that game. The media has said over and over again the problem is there isn’t an obvious alternative.

“The problem is, actually, we’re spoilt for choice. There are several people who would make very good prime ministers within the party and one of those will emerge between now and the next general election and lead us into the next general election, which I trust we shall win.”

PM reflects on Covid and cost of living crisis after by-election losses

07:46 , Elly Blake

Boris Johnson sought to deflect from the by-election defeats being about his leadership.

He told broadcasters in Rwanda: “That may be your view. I think that what governments also have to recognise is that I don’t want to minimise the importance of what voters are saying, but it is also true that in mid-term, government, post-war, lose by-elections.

“I think if you look back to last May the truly astonishing thing was we managed to win Hartlepool in very different circumstances.

“What we need to do now is reflect on where voters are, and what they are basically feeling is that we came through Covid well and we took a lot of the right decisions there. But we are facing pressures on the costs of living.

“We are seeing spikes in fuel prices, energy costs, food costs, that is hitting people. We have to recognise that there is more that we have got to do and we certainly will, we will keep going addressing the concerns of people until we get through this patch.”

Lord Barwell: Tiverton and Honiton result ‘catastrophic’ for Tories

07:34 , Elly Blake

Tory peer Lord Barwell, who was Theresa May’s chief of staff in No 10, has said the Tiverton and Honiton result was “catastrophic” for the Conservative Party.

He told Sky News: “It’s one of the safest Conservative seats in the country. It’s a strongly Leave-supporting constituency.

“So, for the Liberal Democrats to be winning there, and winning comfortably, it means that there’s a whole swathe of seats across the south of the country that are vulnerable.”

Four Conservative MPs come out in support of Oliver Dowden

07:33 , Elly Blake

A fourth Tory MP has backed Oliver Dowden after he quit as party chairman following two by-election losses.

Andrew Bowie, MP for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine, tweeted: “Really sorry to see Oliver stand down as @Conservatives Chairman this morning. A thoroughly decent man.”

Earlier, Simon Hoare, chairman of the Commons Northern Ireland Committee, tweeted: “An honourable letter from an honourable man.

“@OliverDowden is not to blame for these results. Since 2015 I have always been proud to call Oliver a friend. Never more so than today.”

Guildford MP Angela Richardson messaged: “Oliver is a fantastic colleague and he is most certainly not responsible for these results.”

North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale tweeted: “Oliver Dowden is a decent and honourable man who has clearly decided that he can no longer defend the indefensible.”

All four have been critics of the Prime Minister.

Labour calls on PM to ‘take his fair share of responsibility’

07:31 , Elly Blake

The shadow transport secretary has said it is “right” that Conservative Party chairman Oliver Dowden has resigned, but said she hoped Prime Minister Boris Johnson would “take his fair share of responsibility”.

Louise Haigh told BBC Breakfast: “I think it’s right, but I think, once again, everybody else seems to have to take responsibility and resign other than the main man, and I would have hoped that Boris Johnson would take his fair share of responsibility of this devastating blow of these two by-election losses.

“But, knowing the measure of the man as I do, I very much doubt he will.”

Sir Ed Davey: PM ‘must be pushed out'

07:25 , Elly Blake

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey has said the Tiverton and Honiton by-election result shows “Boris Johnson really must be pushed out”.

Speaking to LBC, he said: “We’ve just had the biggest by-election victory here in Devon.

“No majority of this size has ever been overturned in a by-election, so I’m pretty chipper today.

“We are smiling here and the message from Tiverton and Honiton, the people here in Devon, is that Boris Johnson must go. I think they’ve spoken for the whole of the British people and it really is time he left.”

He added that the country was “in chaos” under Mr Johnson’s leadership and the Conservatives appeared to have no plan.

The Liberal Democrats had fronted a “positive” campaign in the constituency with policies that had “energised” people while the current Government falters, he said.

“I think it speaks on behalf of people – Boris Johnson really must be pushed out,” Sir Ed said.

Breaking: PM speaks for first time after Conservatives suffer two by-election losses

07:21 , Elly Blake

Boris Johnson has said he will “listen” to voters but will “keep going” after the Tories suffered a double by-election defeat.

He has also thanked Oliver Dowden after he resigned as Tory party co-chairman.

Speaking to broadcasters in Kigali, the Prime Minister: “It’s absolutely true we’ve had some tough by-election results, they’ve been, I think, a reflection of a lot of things, but we’ve got to recognise voters are going through a tough time at the moment.

“I think, as a Government, I’ve got to listen to what people are saying, in particular to the difficulties people are facing over the cost of living, which, I think, for most people is the number one issue.

“We’re now facing pressures on the cost of living, we’re seeing spikes in fuel prices, energy costs, food costs – that’s hitting people.

“We’ve got to recognise there is more we’ve got to do and we certainly will, we will keep going, addressing the concerns of people until we get through this patch.”

Tory MP: PM ought to be ‘reconsidering position'

07:17 , Elly Blake

Conservative MP Sir Roger Gale has said Boris Johnson “ought to be re-considering his position”.

He tweeted following the two by-election losses: “Spin them how you like the by- election results in Tiverton & Honiton and in Wakefield are another vote of no-confidence in a Prime Minister that ought to honourably this morning be re-considering his position.

“Commiserations to Conservative candidates who deserved better. The soul of our Party is at stake.”

He also defended Oliver Dowden after he resigned as party chairman, calling him “a decent and honourable man who has clearly decided that he can no longer defend the indefensible.”

Reports Priti Patel standing in for Oliver Dowden on morning media round after resignation

07:14 , Elly Blake

Home Secretary Priti Patel was said to be replacing party chairman Oliver Dowden on the Friday morning media round – a sign that at least his staunchest backers are standing by him but it was not clear yet the scale of support for him in Cabinet.

Where is the PM?

07:08 , Elly Blake

Boris Johnson is in Rwanda for the Commonwealth heads of government meeting (Chogm) this week.

Mr Johnson, who is at a Commonwealth leaders’ summit in Kigali, has suggested it would be “crazy” for him to quit if the party lost the two seats and said mid-term by-elections were “never necessarily easy for any government”.

Labour ‘rebuilding that red wall’, says Wakefield’s new MP

06:55 , Elly Blake

Wakefield’s new MP has said that his party’s victory has “turned the page of Tory neglect” in the West Yorkshire constituency.

Speaking to the BBC following his Labour’s win, regaining the seat after it went to the Conservatives at the 2019 general election, Simon Lightwood said he felt “absolutely exhilarated”.

He continued: “I feel so humbled to be returned as Wakefield’s new MP.

“I think it says that Labour is making real progress, rebuilding that red wall, rebuilding the trust of the electorate and people are ready for a fresh start.”

Prior to the Conservatives win in 2019, which saw it turn blue by 3,358 votes, Wakefield had been a Labour stronghold since 1932.

Tiverton and Honiton: The night in pictures

06:50 , Elly Blake

Volunteers at the Tiverton and Honiton count (Getty Images)
Volunteers at the Tiverton and Honiton count (Getty Images)
Conservative candidate Helen Hurford and Lib Dem winner Richard Foord shake hands following result (REUTERS)
Conservative candidate Helen Hurford and Lib Dem winner Richard Foord shake hands following result (REUTERS)
Richard Foord after winning by-election (REUTERS)
Richard Foord after winning by-election (REUTERS)

Conservative MP: Oliver Dowden ‘not to blame’ for by-election results

06:44 , Elly Blake

Simon Hoare, the Tory chair of the Northern Ireland select committee, has said Oliver Dowden is “not to blame” for the by-election results.

Defending his “friend”, Mr Hoare tweeted: “An honourable letter from an honourable man.

“@OliverDowden is not to blame for these results. Since 2015 I have always been proud to call Oliver a friend. Never more so than today.”

Wakefield: The night in pictures

06:39 , Elly Blake

Wakefield by-election count (Getty Images)
Wakefield by-election count (Getty Images)
Conservative candidate Nadeem Ahmed waits for declaration (Getty Images)
Conservative candidate Nadeem Ahmed waits for declaration (Getty Images)
Labour candidate Simon Lightwood wins (Getty Images)
Labour candidate Simon Lightwood wins (Getty Images)

A historic night: how the wins compare

06:29 , Sarah Harvey

The Conservatives’ defeat at the polls in Tiverton & Honiton and Wakefield is the first time in more than 30 years that a government has lost two by-elections on the same day.

Read here for more detail on how this result stack ups historically.

More from a jubilant Simon Lightwood

06:25 , Sarah Harvey

Mr Lightwood thanked his campaign team for "the countless hours and sacrifices you have made to ensure we turn Wakefield red again".

He said: "In this election, we offered a vision for Wakefield that was positive, full of ideas, hope and aspiration, all guided by the principle that politics should be about creating a better country for us all

"Only Keir Starmer's Labour Party has the vision and the ideas to make life better for everybody in this country.

"We will restore trust and integrity in British politics, and build an economy that tackles the root causes of poverty whilst lifting the aspirations of all.

"My message to the people of Wakefield is this: I will restore trust in our politics by working night and day to address the issues which you care about."

New Wakefield MP Simon Lightwood on his win

06:23 , Sarah Harvey

New Wakefield MP Simon Lightwood has said "the next Labour government has been born in this room tonight".

In his speech after being declared the winner of the West Yorkshire by-election, 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&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."

Oliver Dowden resigns as chairman of Tory party

06:05 , Elly Blake

Oliver Dowden has resigned as chairman of the Conservative Party after it suffered two by-election defeats, saying in a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson that "someone must take responsibility".

“Yesterday's Parliamentary by-elections are the latest in a run of very poor result for our party," Mr Dowden wrote in a letter to the Prime Minister.

"Our supporters are distressed and disappointed by recent events, and I share their feelings.

"We cannot carry on with business as usual. Somebody must take responsibility and I have concluded that, in these circumstances, it would not be right for me to remain in office."

Lib Dems MP says win is ‘absolutely staggering'

06:03 , Sarah Harvey

Richard Foord, the newly-elected Liberal Democrat MP for Tiverton and Honiton, described his victory as "absolutely staggering".

Speaking just after the vote was declared on Friday morning, he said: "This result is absolutely staggering, we weren't expecting a win, let alone a win of this scale."

Mr Foord added: "We have been noticing that momentum has been shifting from the Conservatives to the Liberal Democrats over the course of this campaign and particularly in recent days because of the very positive agenda we were setting out.

"But this is absolutely seismic and we have overturned the biggest majority in parliamentary by-election history and it really sent a very clear message to this Government."

Historic by-election win

06:02 , Sarah Harvey

The Conservatives' defeat at the polls in Tiverton & Honiton and Wakefield is the first time in more than 30 years that a government has lost two by-elections on the same day.

The previous occasion was on November 7 1991, when the Conservative government of John Major lost the seat of Langbaurgh in Cleveland to Labour and also Kincardine & Deeside in east Scotland to the Liberal Democrats.

A double by-election loss for a government is so rare in British politics that it has now happened only seven times since the Second World War.

The Liberal Democrats needed a swing of at least 22.8 percentage points to win Tiverton & Honiton - in other words, 23 in every 100 people in the constituency who voted Conservative at the 2019 general election needed to switch directly to the Lib Dems.

In the event they managed a swing of 29.9 points: large enough to rank as the sixth biggest swing against a government since 1945 in a by-election that saw a change in both party and MP.

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