Tory Splits Erupt Again After Rishi Sunak Suffers Double By-Election Defeat

Right-wingers urge prime minister to "change course" or lose general election.
DAN KITWOOD via Getty Images

Rishi Sunak has been told he must urgently “change course” as fresh Tory splits erupted following two disastrous by-election defeats for the prime minister.

Labour overturned two huge Conservative majorities in Kingswood and Wellingborough in a further sign Keir Starmer is heading to Downing Street.

Despite the losses and with the general election on the horizon, the prime minister insisted on Friday that his plan was “working”.


But in a joint statement this afternoon, Tory MPs Danny Kruger and Miriam Cates of the New Conservatives group slammed Sunak’s strategy.

Kruger and Cates demanded the PM crack down even harder on immigration, withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights and cut taxes.

“There is still time - but our party must change course. We are calling on the government to adapt to the reality that the by-elections reveal. Our target voters want a different and a better offer,” they said.

“In 2019 the British people voted for change, and they haven’t seen it yet. We have many good excuses - the disruptions and distractions of Brexit, Covid and the Ukraine war - but so far, we have not delivered on the promises we made at the last election.”

In Kingswood, Labour overturned a Tory majority of 11,220. And in Wellingborough Labour won with a massive 28.5% swing from Tories - the second biggest since the Second World War.

Kruger and Cates added: “The results in yesterday’s by-elections are unequivocal: Labour are winning because many of the people who backed us in 2019 are staying at home or voting Reform.

“Voters are not flocking to Labour. They want a genuine alternative to the consensus politics of the last two decades - high taxes, low security, managed decline.”

Sunak is facing at pincer movement at the general election of Labour and the Lib Dems on the left and the Reform party on the right.

Reform, which is the successor to Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party, won 10% of the vote in Kingswood and 13% in Wellingborough.

The Conservatives have lost 11 seats in by-elections this parliament, the most by any government since the 1960s.


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