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Labour regained Wakefield, a constituency in northern England, which it lost in 2019 when many of its traditional seats switched allegiance to Johnson's Conservatives.
On Friday, Britain's governing Conservative Party lost two crucial House of Commons seats after by-elections. The parliamentary loss delivered a double blow both to the Conservative Party and the party's leader Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Labour regained Wakefield, a constituency in northern England, which it lost in 2019 when many of its traditional seats switched allegiance to Johnson's Conservatives. In Wakefield, Labour candidate Simon Lightwood won 13,166 votes, beating Conservative candidate Nadeem Ahmed, 8,241 votes, into second place. It was a 12.7 percent swing from Conservative to Labour.
Meanwhile in Tiverton and Honiton in southwest England, Richard Foord of the minority Liberal Democrats secured 22,537 votes, with Conservative Helen Hurford, who polled 16,393 votes, coming second. The victory made the minority Liberal Democrats overturn one of the biggest Conservative majorities in the country.
Although the loss of the two seats only made a small dent in Johnson's near 80-seat majority, the results are widely expected to weaken his power grip at 10 Downing Street. Johnson recently won a confidence vote among Conservative backbench Members of the Parliament (MPs). The new parliamentary loss among Johnson's MPs came less than two years before the next general election due in May 2024.
The pressure on 10 Downing Street is mounting as an ongoing national rail strike has caused chaos and British Airways staff threatened to walk out, which is likely to ruin the summer holiday plans of thousands of families.
Keir Starmer and Simon Lightwood greet Labour activists in Ossett. Starmer say the result in Wakefield is “vindication” of the party’s progress in the last two years. pic.twitter.com/42UBMnbSxD
A feared "summer of discontent" has come on top of a living cost crisis and record rises in the costs of fuel and electricity. Britain's inflation hit a 40-year high of 9.1 percent in May. Many voters have not forgiven Johnson for the Partygate scandal, which saw Downing Street revel in alcohol-fueled parties as families across Britain were following strict lockdown measures.
The catalogue of problems set the scene for a dramatic day in British politics. In Wakefield, a total of 15 candidates battled it out for the prized seat at Westminster, while at Tiverton and Honiton there were eight candidates competing for the vacant seat.
Labour leader Keir Starmer said the Wakefield win showed the country has lost confidence in the Conservatives. "This result is a clear judgment on a Conservative party that has run out of energy and ideas," he said.
Ed Davey, leader of the Lib Dems, described the result in Tiverton and Honiton as a stunning win, adding it should be a wake-up call for Conservative MPs propping up Johnson. Reaction to the results was swift, with the chair of the Conservative Party Oliver Dowden resigning hours after the two election losses were declared.
"We cannot carry on with business as usual," Dowden said in his resignation letter to Johnson. "Our supporters are distressed and disappointed by recent events, and I share their feelings."