Your Essential Guide To Looming By-Elections In The North And South

Wakefield and Tiverton and Honiton are going to be huge tests for Boris Johnson, Keir Starmer and Ed Davey.
Johnson, Starmer and Davey are facing big tests
Johnson, Starmer and Davey are facing big tests
HuffPost UK

Two by-elections, both triggered by scandals, are set to be held at opposite ends of England on June 23.

The polls are being held on the sixth anniversary of the EU referendum and come at a time when British politics feels once again astonishingly uncertain.

Voters in Wakefield, in West Yorkshire, will select a new MP after the former Conservative MP Imran Ahmad Khan resigned after he was convicted of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy and jailed for 18 months.

Meanwhile, the residents of Tiverton and Honiton, in Devon, will elect their next MP after Conservative Neil Parish stood down after admitting he watched pornography twice in parliament.

The two polls will be a major test for Boris Johnson who is battling to save his leadership as a number of Tory MPs call for him to go.

Imran Ahmad Khan and Neil Parish
Imran Ahmad Khan and Neil Parish
Getty

Wakefield was a traditional Labour seat, part of the so-called “Red Wall”, won by the Tories with a 3,358 majority at the 2019 general election.

Unhappiness with the Brexit stalemate undoubtedly played a part in that snap election result.

But with the Brexit wars over, a global pandemic, an MP imprisoned and a prime minister mired in scandal, the political landscape has been transformed.

Labour has set their hopes on winning back the seat, which was formerly represented by Mary Creagh.

A recent poll showed the Tories are on course for a crushing defeat in seat, with Labour gaining a 20-point lead.

According to the new poll, which was published in the Sunday Times, Labour are now on 48 per cent, with the Tories on 28 per cent.

While Labour and the Lib Dems deny any formal pact to prise the two seats off the Tories, logic dictates they might both be better off if they focused on one seat.

Over in Tiverton and Honiton, the Lib Dems are hoping to recreate recent by-election victories in North Shropshire and Chesham and Amersham.

However, it will be no mean feat given Parish sat on a whopping 24,239 majority while the Lib Dems trailed behind in third place at general elections.

But North Shropshire showed it was possible for the Lib Dems to take a rural constituency from the Tories, and they also took control of Somerset council from them at the local elections.

The Tories will hope to hold on to rural Tiverton and Honiton which they have continuously held since it was created in 1997. Despite Parish’s embarrassing resignation, he was seen as a well-regarded farmer in the local community.

Losing Tiverton and Honiton will be a painful loss and likely prompt a further backlash against Johnson’s leadership.

Meanwhile, Wakefield looks tougher for the Tories and it will be a real test of the PM’s toxicity and whether chancellor Rishi Sunak’s cost of living package is cutting through.

Losing Wakefield will be seen by some as an indication of Johnson’s ability to hold on to the Red Wall at the next general election.

Here HuffPost UK takes you through who the candidates are and what their pitch is to the local communities.

Wakefield

Factfile

Former MP: Imran Ahmad Khan, Conservative

Majority: 3,358

Location: Yorkshire & Humber

Population: 101,361

Land use: 34% built-up, 49% agricultural, 8% green or leisure

Average house price: ÂŁ172,500

Households claiming Universal Credit: 7,720

Credit: House of Commons Library

Candidates

Nadeem Ahmed - Conservative Party

Nadeem Ahmed
Nadeem Ahmed
Conservative Party

Nadeem Ahmed has been a Wakefield district councillor since 2006. His campaign focuses on delivering on the “people’s priorities” for Wakefield, including improving transport infrastructure and supporting business to help create high-skill, well-paid jobs.

Simon Lightwood - Labour Party

Simon Lightwood
Simon Lightwood
Labour Party

Simon Lightwood has promised to be a “champion” for Wakefield amid the cost of living crisis. His pitch includes attracting well-paid jobs and investment, restoring bus routes and capped fares, protecting health services and more police to tackle anti-social behaviour.

Jamie Needle - Liberal Democrats

Jamie Needle
Jamie Needle
Liberal Democrats

Jamie Needle has lived in Yorkshire since moving there in 1999 and is a director of a small renewable energy company. He previously stood to be the MP for Wakefield in 2019 and has also stood to be a councillor in Bradford. He is standing to campaign for more action to tackle the cost of living crisis.

Other Candidates

Akef Akbar - Independent / Paul Bickerdike - Christian Peoples Alliance / Mick Dodgson - Freedom Alliance. Real People. Real Alternative / Sir Archibald Stanton Earl ’Eaton - The Official Monster Raving Loony Party / Jayda Fransen - Independent / Jordan James Gaskell - UK Independence Party / David John Rowntree Herdson - Yorkshire Party / Therese Hirst - English Democrats / Christopher Richard Jones - Northern Independence Party / Ashley Theo Blue Routh - Green Party / Ashlea Simon - Britain First / Chris Walsh - Reform UK

Tiverton and Honiton

Factfile

Former MP: Neil Parish, Conservative

Majority: 24,239

Location: South West England

Population: 105,222

Land use: 3% built-up, 88% agricultural, 8% forest/natural

Average house price: ÂŁ279,998

Households claiming Universal Credit: 5,064

Credit: House of Commons Library

Candidates

Helen Hurford - Conservative

Helen Hurford
Helen Hurford
Conservative Party

Helen Hurford is a former head teacher who is currently deputy mayor in Honiton. Her campaign is focused on delivering on the “people’s priorities” for the area including improving transport links, supporting farmers and businesses.

Richard Foord - Liberal Democrats

Richard Foord
Richard Foord
Liberal Democrats

Richard Foord served in the Army for 10 years, with tours in Iraq and Kosovo, and now works in international security with the University of Oxford. He has vowed to fight for greater action to cut the cost of living – particularly in rural areas – to cut ambulance waiting times and to stop water companies pumping sewage into Devon’s rivers and beaches.

Liz Pole - Labour

Liz Pole
Liz Pole
Labour Party

Liz Pole is a mother of two teenage girls in local schools and has run an international software business for 20 years. She is an economics graduate and says she is passionate everyone can enjoy “security, prosperity and respect” in their lives.

Other Candidates

Jordan Donoghue-Morgan - Heritage Party / Andy Foan - Reform UK / Frankie Rufolo - The For Britain Movement / Ben Walker - UK Independence Party / Gill Westcott - Green Party

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