Huge blow to Boris Johnson as Lib Dems win Tiverton and Honiton by-election

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

In another massive blow to Boris Johnson, the party managed to overthrow the 24,000 Tories majority to win the Devon seat by 6,144 votes on an extraordinary 30 percent swing.

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

In the 2019 general election, the Lib Dems were third behind the Tories and Labour.

It is the largest majority overthrown in the history of midterm elections.

The sensational result was announced just minutes after Labor defeated the Conservatives to retake the Red Wall seat from Wakefield.

It is the first time a ruling party has lost two by-elections on the same day since 1991, when John Major was Prime Minister.

And it’s the Lib Dem’s third by-election win 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 put even more pressure on Johnson, less than three weeks after 148 of his own MPs voted against a vote of confidence in his leadership.

While it is not uncommon for governments to lose by-elections, the sheer magnitude of the turn in the fate of the Tory since 2019 will worry MPs who now believe their own seats are at risk.

Johnson, who is in Rwanda at a summit of Commonwealth government leaders, yesterday rejected suggestions that he would have to quit if he lost both midterm elections.

He said: “I will follow the results with interest, but always full of optimism and cheerfulness, but most seasoned political observers know that mid-term by-elections are never necessarily easy for a government.”

Tiverton and Honiton’s by-election was called after Neil Parish resigned as a Tory MP after admitting to having watched porn in the House of Commons.

The Lib Dems declared the victory more than an hour before the results were officially announced.

A party spokesman said: “The people of Tiverton and Honiton have spoken out for the country. This is a historic victory for the Liberal Democrats and a devastating blow to the Conservative MPs who continue to support 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 spoke for Britain. They have sent a loud and clear message: it is time for Boris Johnson to go. And go now.

“Our country is a great country and there is no greater part of it than Devon. But every day that Boris Johnson clings to office brings even more shame, chaos and neglect. Communities like ours are on their knees. All of us on this podium tonight have heard the pain people are suffering as the cost of living crisis begins to bite.

“But if Boris Johnson could fight for farmers, for our NHS and for rural services, he will fight again to save his own skin. I also have a simple message for the Conservative MPs who support this failing Prime Minister: the Liberal Democrats are coming.”

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