Boris Johnson has faced a doubly damaging blow to his dominance after the Conservative Party lost both the Wakefield and Tiverton and Honiton by-elections. While Labour took the only recently turned-blue Wakefield, the Liberal Democrats overturned a 24,000-majority for the first time in Tiverton and Honiton’s election history. Richard Foord, Tiverton and Honiton’s new MP, beat the Tories’ Helen Hurford by 6,144 votes.
It is believed that by numbers alone, this is the biggest-ever majority overturned in a by-election.
While celebrations have been aplenty in the Labour and Lib Dem camps, the Tories are believed to be scrambling to process the result, fearing that it could be a sign of things to come in light of Mr Johnson’s various scandals in office, including the so-called Partygate saga.
Tory co-chairman Oliver Dowden quit after the results were announced, in his resignation letter telling Mr Johnson that Tory supporters were “distressed and disappointed”.
Mr Johnson and his allies will now be looking to the future, with Sir Vince Cable, former leader of the Lib Dems, suggesting an October General Electron could be on the cards.
Speaking to Express.co.uk in the aftermath of the results, he said: “It’s quite possible that an election will be called.
“This is the big question no one’s talking about this morning.
“But if you’re Boris Johnson and you manage to hang on, a throw of the dice like that — a surprise — might well be one of the things and options he’s looking at.”
The next General Election is in 2025 but Mr Johnson does have the option of calling one before then.
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Even with a new leader in place, Sir Vince suggested that the Tories will want to call an election in order to establish the legitimacy of the new power base.
He said: “If they do get a new leader, they will want a fresh mandate and one before the economic crisis becomes too desperate.
“And so yes, I think we should be thinking about the possibility of an October election.”
Sir Vince’s colleagues, like many other figures across the political spectrum, have already called for Mr Johnson to leave his post.
Ed Davey, the Lib Dem leader, said the result proved it was time for Tory MPs to “finally do the right thing” and oust Mr Johnson.
He said: “This should be a wake-up call for all those Conservative MPs propping up Boris Johnson. They cannot afford to ignore this result.”
Responding to his party’s victory in Wakefield, Sir Keir Starmer said the result showed the country “has lost confidence in the Tories”.
He added: “This result is a clear judgement on a Conservative Party that has run out of energy and ideas.”
Despite all this, Mr Johnson has said he will “listen” to voters and “keep going”.