Huge Blow For Boris Johnson As Lib Dems Win Tiverton And Honiton By-Election

Sensational result sees Richard Foord overturn the Conservatives' 24,000 majority
The Liberal Democrats' by-election candidate Richard Foord (left) poses for a photograph with his wife Kate after they cast their votes at the Uffculme Village Hall in Uffculme.
The Liberal Democrats' by-election candidate Richard Foord (left) poses for a photograph with his wife Kate after they cast their votes at the Uffculme Village Hall in Uffculme.
Andrew Matthews via PA Wire/PA Images

The Liberal Democrats have won the Tiverton and Honiton by-election.

In another huge blow for Boris Johnson, the party managed to overturn the Tories’ 24,000 majority to win the Devon seat by 6,144 votes on an extraordinary 30 per cent swing.

Lib Dem candidate Richard Foord received 22,537 votes, with the Conservatives’ Helen Hurford polling 16,393 and Labour’s Liz Pole on 1,562.

At the 2019 general election, the Lib Dems had come third behind the Tories and Labour.

It is the largest majority to be overturned in by-election history.

The sensational result was announced just minutes after Labour defeated the Conservatives to regain the Red Wall seat of Wakefield.

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.

And it is the third Lib Dem by-election victory over the Tories in a year, following their wins in North Shropshire in December and Chesham and Amersham last June.

The latest crushing losses will pile yet more pressure on Johnson, less than three weeks after 148 of his own MPs voted against a motion of confidence in his leadership.

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 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 Tiverton and Honiton by-election was called after Neil Parish resigned as the Tory MP after he admitted watching porn in the Commons.

The Lib Dems declared victory more than hour before the result was officially announced.

A party spokesperson said: “The people of Tiverton and Honiton have spoken up for the country. This is an historic victory for the Liberal Democrats and a devastating blow for those Conservative MPs who continue to prop up Boris Johnson.”

In his victory speech, Foord said the result had “sent a shockwave through British politics”.

He added: “Tonight, the people of Tiverton and Honiton have spoken for Britain. They’ve sent a loud and clear message: It’s time for Boris Johnson to go. And go now.

“Ours is a great country and there’s no greater part of it than Devon. But every day Boris Johnson clings to office, he brings further shame, chaos and neglect. Communities like ours are on their knees. Every one of us standing on this stage tonight has heard the pain people are suffering as the cost of living crisis starts to bite.

“Yet when Boris Johnson could be fighting for farmers, for our NHS and for rural services, he’ll be fighting once again to save his own skin. I also have a simple message for those Conservative MPs propping up this failing prime minister: The Liberal Democrats are coming.”


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