Residents of Wakefield have until 10pm to cast a vote in the by-election. The constituency is a ‘Red Wall’ seat lost by Labour to the Conservatives in 2019. The contest today was triggered when the now ex-Conservative MP Imran Ahmad Khan was convicted for sexually assaulting a child in 2008.The Tory majority to overturn is 3,358. The polling has been positive for Labour and the party is expected to win the seat – the question is how much the swing will be.
Labour winning means Simon Lightwood will join the Parliamentary Labour Party. After his selection, I sat down with the Labour candidate earlier this month. According to Lightwood, the by-election is not a referendum on ‘partygate’ or Boris Johnson’s leadership – but is instead about “giving Wakefield back its voice” after its disgraced MP left residents without a vote or a say in parliament. You can read the full interview here.
And the fun does not stop with Wakefield. Tiverton and Honiton voters are also heading to the polls today. There is a far larger Conservative majority to overcome in the seat – the Tories won by 24,239 votes at the last general election. The constituency, which has been Conservatives since its creation in 1997, is up for grabs today after Tory Neil Parish admitted watching porn in the Commons. The Lib Dems are expected to take the seat, although according to them the by-election is “neck and neck”.
Boris Johnson narrowly survived a confidence vote two weeks ago, and the prospect of a double by-election defeat has been described by Conservatives MPs as a “disaster” for the embattled Prime Minister. It seems his Tory backbenchers will find it difficult to conclude that the public in both seats turning away from the Conservatives could be anything but a dim appraisal of their leader. Johnson is (conveniently) going to be in Rwanda when the results are announced early tomorrow morning. LabourList will be standing by for the declarations, so stay tuned.Sign up to LabourList’s morning email for everything Labour, every weekday morning.