Tory Chair Prompts Laughter At BBC For Insisting Uxbridge By-Election Was 'Standout Result'

The Conservatives lost two other seats last night and held Uxbridge by just 495 votes.
Tory Party chair Greg Hands left people in the BBC studio spluttering over his take on Thursday's by-elections
Tory Party chair Greg Hands left people in the BBC studio spluttering over his take on Thursday's by-elections
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The Tory chair evoked laughter among BBC journalists on Friday after he described the Conservatives’ very narrow win in the Uxbridge by-election as a “standout result”.

Greg Hands was speaking to BBC Radio 4′s Today programme after a particularly rough night for his party. Three simultaneous by-elections on Thursday saw the Tories lose one seat to Labour and another to the Liberal Democrats.

The Tories only managed to hold onto Boris Johnson’s old seat in Uxbridge and South Ruislip by 495 votes, down from a majority of 7,210 secured by the former PM back in 2019.

Compared to Labour’s 4,161 extra votes in Selby and Ainsty, and the Lib Dems’ success in Somerset and Frome in wiping out a huge Tory majority of 19,213, this Uxbridge win pales in comparison.

But, despite these pretty unflattering numbers, the Tory chair told journalists it was the “standout result” of the night.

Speaking to the Today programme, he claimed: “I think the standout result was the one in Uxbridge, that’s the one people weren’t expecting.”

This prompted audible laughter from polling guru John Curtice and the BBC’s political editor, Chris Mason on air.

Today programme host Nick Robinson commented: “Forgive me. We are joined, I should explain, by the experts, Professor Sir John Curtice and Chris Mason. I wouldn’t be disrespectful enough to laugh at your answer, but they just did.”

Hands seemed unperturbed, and replied: “Well, look, Labour were 25-1 on last week. If you popped into a leading bookmaker, you’d get 9-1 against the Conservatives holding Uxbridge.

“Of course, there are lessons for us to learn in Selby and Ainsty, and Somerset and Frome, where Labour lost their deposit there, but let’s not ignore that the standout result, the one that’s attracted the most attention, defied expectations, was the Conservatives winning in Uxbridge.”

However, Hands did admit that it was clear the “Conservatives need to do better”.

Earlier on Friday morning, Curtice has also told the programme that the Tories “should not take too much comfort in Uxbridge win”.

He added that the narrow victory suggests the opinion polls are correct and the Conservatives “are a long way behind” Labour.

He pointed out that the successful Tory candidate himself, Steve Tuckwell, suggested the victory came down to the ULEZ scheme championed by Labour, rather than suggesting it was evidence the Conservative government was doing well.

Meanwhile, PM Rishi Sunak claimed that the by-election in Uxbridge just showed that the next general election is “not a done deal”.


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