The Conservatives have lost the Tiverton and Honiton parliamentary constituency in a significant defeat as the Lib Dems overturned a Tory majority of 24,239 to win the seat by 6,144 votes in by-election on Thursday.
Lib Dem Richard Foord won against Conservative Helen Hurford, with the opposition party securing 22,537 votes compared to the Tories who received the support of 16,393 residents. Labour candidate Liz Pole placed third, backed by 1,562 voters.
Tiverton and Honiton:
Lib Dem: 52.9% (+38.1)
Conservatives: 38.5% (-21.7)
Labour: 3.7% (-15.9)
Green: 2.5% (-1.3)
Reform: 1.1% (+1.1)
UKIP: 0.6% (-1.1)
Lib Dem GAIN from Conservative.
Senior Labour Party figures reportedly said earlier this year that the party was “soft pedalling” the contest triggered by the resignation of Conservative MP Neil Parish after he admitted watching pornography in the House of Commons.
Keir Starmer denied telling Labour frontbenchers not to campaign in the Tiverton and Honiton by-election, telling LabourList: “I’m not in the business of saying to people don’t go campaign for a Labour candidate, wherever they are in the country.”
A Lib Dem spokesperson denied on Wednesday that there was a pact with Labour or that the party was going “soft” in Wakefield – where Labour ousted the Tories in another by-election on Thursday – highlighting a visit by deputy leader Daisy Cooper.
Labour MP Ben Bradshaw suggested voters may wish to consider supporting the Lib Dems rather than Pole. “What some Labour members and activists don’t always appreciate is that a lot of Conservative voters, if they want to give the government a kicking, will vote Liberal Democrat but they wouldn’t vote Labour,” he said.
“So, if we have a joint purpose of wanting to send the Prime Minister a message and ultimately defeat this government in a general election, then I think there are very good prospects of a Lib Dem victory there.”
Voters also went to the polls in the so-called ‘Red Wall’ parliamentary seat of Wakefield on Thursday, a by-election triggered by the resignation of disgraced Tory MP Imran Ahmad Khan after he was convicted of sexually assaulting a child. Labour’s Simon Lightwood won by 4,925 votes.