A total of 42,707 votes were cast in the Crunch Poll, the results of which are due to be announced at Lords Meadows Leisure Center in Crediton this morning
(Image: MARK PASSMORE/APEX)
The Liberal Democrats say today they won smashes in the Tiverton and Honiton by-elections this morning – putting fresh pressure on Boris Johnson’s leadership.
Lib Dem candidate Richard Foord toppled a majority of 24,239 in Devon constituency – a Conservative heartland for a century – and beat his Tory opponent Helen Hurford, a former headmistress.
With votes still being tallied, the party said ex-Army Major Mr Foord, 44, had won – delivering a majority for Sir Ed Davey’s party.
A party spokesman said: “It looks like a clear victory.
“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.”
It is the largest majority defeated in any by-election.
The turnout was 52.3% with 42,707 votes cast.
Sir Ed is expected to visit the constituency later in the day.
As hopes grew for a Lib Dem triumph in the early hours of the morning, he tweeted, “Looks like I need a bigger hammer” – a reference to his publicity stunt of using a hammer to knock out a “blue wall” plastic bricks when his party won an earlier by-election by beating the Conservatives.
The prime minister is expected to be questioned about the recent humiliating defeat in a traditional stronghold when he gives a lunchtime news conference in Kigali.
Mr Johnson is in the Rwandan capital to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting – his first stop on an eight-day tour that includes the G7 summit in Bavaria and the NATO summit in Madrid.
The vote on Tiverton and Honiton was sparked by the resignation of Tory MP Neil Parish after he admitted to having watched porn in the House of Commons twice.
The Lib Dems had been optimistic about their chances in the rural constituency, which has been held by the Conservatives since its inception in 1997.
The Lib Dems were given a boost by conquering two Conservative strongholds last year – toppling a 16,223 Tory majority to win by-elections in Chesham and Amersham last June by 8,028 votes, and then winning the North Shropshire by-election , where the Tories held a 22,949 majority, with 5,925 votes in December.
The defeat in Devon will put pressure on Mr Johnson’s prime minister’s office, with backbench critics poised to comment this week.
Earlier this month, four out of 10 Tory MPs backed a no-confidence vote aimed at ousting the Prime Minister.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/breaking-lib-dems-claim-stunning-27315761 BREAKING: Lib Dems claim stunning by-election victory in Tiverton and Honiton poll