Five reasons Tories should be worried about damaging by-election results

Boris Johnson suffered a brutal double by-election defeat as voters deserted the Tories with disastrous defeats in Wakefield, Tiverton and Honiton, sure to put pressure on the Prime Minister

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Boris Johnson responds to ‘tough by-election results’

There isn’t enough color on B&Q’s shelves to gloss over how bad last night’s by-election was for the Tories.

Wakefield and Tiverton & Honiton voters may not have much in common, but both agreed it was time to send their Tory MPs home.

On a dramatic night, Labor retook the Red Wall seat in Wakefield and the Liberal Democrats toppled a 24,000 Tory majority in Tiverton and Honiton.

The disastrous results will put pressure on Boris Johnson, who has been trying to restore his ailing position as prime minister after holding on to a no-confidence vote earlier this month.

No incumbent Prime Minister has lost two by-elections in a single day since Tory John Major in 1991, and there are five reasons Tory MPs should be concerned:

1: Boris unpacked

Boris Johnson is still digesting a somber night while his rivals smile



Boris Johnson has gone from Tories’ greatest asset to ballot box poison.

The PM may want to walk away from Partygate, but the country hasn’t.

It’s not just that Johnson is personally toxic, he’s started to contaminate the entire Tory brand.

Even popular politics don’t end up being tainted by their association with him.

2: Red Flag Red Wall

Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer meets new Wakefield MP Simon Lightwood



The loss of the Red Wall seat in Wakefield and the Blue Wall seat in Tiverton shows that the Conservative coalition is crumbling. The Tories won the 2019 general election by forging a coalition of voters in their traditional counties and the former Labor Party heartlands.

This pact was glued together by a dislike for Jeremy Corbyn and a desire to push through with Brexit.

Corbyn is gone now and Brexit is no longer such an important issue. The doomsday scenario for the Tories is that Labor retakes the Red Wall and the Lib Dems storm parts of the Blue Wall leaving them with little support.

3: People choose tactically

Newly elected MP Richard Foord of the UK’s centrist Liberal Democrat party celebrates with supporters


AFP via Getty Images)

As part of an unwritten agreement, the Lib Dems took a backseat in Wakefield and Labor did the same in Tiverton.

You shouldn’t have bothered about it.

If voters’ main motive is to bloody the Tories’ nose, they don’t need instructions on how to vote tactically, they’re perfectly capable of working it out themselves.

4: Tories choose the wrong fights

It is one of the largest reported by-election defeats



In the run-up to the by-election, they played every populist card in their pack, from Rwandan prisoner flights to Brexit war revivals to union bashing, without a noticeable effect on voters in two seats with exit votes.

Government by gimmicks and culture wars don’t work when people are more concerned about the cost of living, fuel prices and the state of their local public services.

5 Tories have not kept their promises

Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey’s message was clear after the stunning night


(Getty Images)

Johnson sauntered to victory in 2019 and vowed to make the country better.

Voters are struggling to find evidence of where this has been achieved.

In Tiverton & Honiton the two biggest problems on the doorstep were the shortage of NHS dentists and the crumbling local secondary school buildings.

Wakefield voters also complained that the Tories had failed in their promise to improve the city.

In Westminster, Tory MPs now fear it may be too late to achieve alignment before the next general election.

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