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By-elections latest: Boris Johnson blamed for Sunak’s ‘armageddon’ defeat in Tamworth and Mid Bedfordshire

Labour could be on course for an even bigger landslide than the one seen under Tony Blair under 1997, polling guru says

Namita Singh,Archie Mitchell,Athena Stavrou
Friday 20 October 2023 21:16 BST
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Mid-Bedfordshire and Tamworth by-elections: Key statistics

Sir Keir Starmer has cast himself the heir to Blair after a historic Tory by-election drubbing in which he jubilantly declared Labour was “redrawing the political map”.

The Labour leader said that Tory voters were turning to them because they were “fed up with the decline and despairing of the party they used to vote for”.

The Tories are now staring down the barrel of an unprecedented wipeout after suffering defeats in two fiercely contested by-elections, with huge majorities evaporating overnight following a disastrous few years in which the party has seemingly stumbled from one crisis to another.

Starmers remarks came as polling guru John Curtice said Boris Johnson and Liz Truss were largely to blame for the crushing defeat.

Overturning the biggest majority in British by-election history, Labour took Mid Bedfordshire from the Tories for the first time.

While in Tamworth, the party saw the second biggest swing from the Tories to Labour in a by-election in post-war history.

Meanwhile, former chancellor George Osborne warned the record defeats spell “armageddon” for the Conservatives at the general election.

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Polling guru: Boris Johnson and Liz Truss scandals to blame for Tory disaster

Boris Johnson and Liz Truss are to largely blame for the Conservatives crushing double by-election defeat, according to polling guru Sir John Curtice.

Prof Curtice said the Tories were staring a general election wipe-out “in the face” after “extraordinary swings” to Labour which saw the safe seats of Tamworth and Mid Bedfordshire turn red.

Pointing to the impact of Mr Johnson’s Partygate scandal and Ms Truss’mini-budget fiasco, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think one could reasonably argue that the reason why we are where we are is because of those two events – and that’s more important than the fact Sir Keir Starmer has changed his party, although perhaps if Sir Keir Starmer had not changed his party maybe they wouldn’t be as popular to the same degree.”

He added: “A big what if: let us say those Partygate happenings had never happened, or at least we’d never heard of them and a result Boris Johnson was still in No 10 today. Would Labour be doing as well as they are at the moment?”

Tories ‘staring general election defeat in face’, says John Curtice
Athena Stavrou20 October 2023 10:21
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Holly Evans20 October 2023 21:16
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Rishi Sunak’s full comments on double by-election loss

Speaking before leaving the Middle East, Rishi Sunak told reporters: “Obviously disappointing results, not least because our candidates Festus (Akinbusoye) and Andrew (Cooper) worked very hard, and I know they’ll continue to be great local champions in their communities.

“It is important to remember the context - mid-term elections are always difficult for incumbent governments. And of course there are also local factors at play here.”

He said he was “committed to delivering on the priorities of the British people. That is why we’re going to keep on with halving inflation, growing the economy, reducing debt, cutting waiting lists and stopping the boats.

“But also over the past month, I’ve set out some long-term decisions that will change our country for the better.

“A new approach to net zero which will save families thousands of pounds, ensuring that we take a different approach to HS2, investing £36 billion in other transport projects around the country that will benefit people faster, or ensuring that an entire generation of our young children can grow up without smoking.

“Those are the type of decisions that I’m making for our country. That is the change that we’re going to bring, and I’m committed to delivering for the British people.”

Rishi Sunak said the results were ‘obviously disappointing’

Holly Evans20 October 2023 21:00
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After another by-election disaster, the Tories must face facts – the British public is done with them

A national mood is an amorphous, elusive thing, but you can recognise it when you collide with it. For Britain, this is one such time, and it is something that is making its political presence felt to the governing party.

The mood is summed up in the social media sphere as #GTTO – get the Tories out. It is quite tangible, even in Middle England.

Despite valiant attempts by Conservatives to blame the electorate for their own failures, the dismal showing by the party in a run of parliamentary by-elections cannot be put down to bad weather, local factors, and an ephemeral protest vote.

All those things did no doubt have their psephological effect in Tamworth and Mid Bedfordshire; but the sheer scale and the nature of the Conservative collapse cannot be so easily explained away.

Read the full article below

Editorial: The Tories must face facts – the British public is done with them

Editorial: The Conservatives have grown too distant from the mood of the nation they presume to serve. It is a collective failure of a party that’s been in government for too long

Holly Evans20 October 2023 20:45
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Tory by-election defeats: John Rentoul answers your questions from Farage’s return to election timeline

Questions abound following a historic Tory by-election trouncing, in which Sir Keir Starmer jubilantly declared Labour was “redrawing the political map”.

The Labour leader said Tory voters were turning to them because they were “fed up with the decline and despairing of the party they used to vote for”.

The Conservatives are now staring down the barrel of an unprecedented wipeout after suffering defeats in two fiercely contested by-elections, with huge majorities disintegrating overnight following a disastrous few years in which the party has seemingly stumbled from one crisis to another.

Read more here

John Rentoul answers your questions – from Farage’s return to election timeline

John Rentoul answers your questions as Sir Keir Starmer declared Labour was ‘redrawing the political map’ following a historic Tory by-election trouncing

Holly Evans20 October 2023 20:37
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‘Architects of disaster’: Boris, Truss and Tory right accused of leading party into electoral wilderness

The Conservative party was sent into a fresh round of anguish and infighting after the historic double by-election defeat to Labour in the safe seats of Tamworth and Mid Bedfordshire.

While the Tory right immediately called for changes and accused Rishi Sunak of being in “denial”, Tory moderates who remain loyal to the PM warned him against a lurch to the right.

Many pointed the finger at Boris Johnson and Liz Truss for leading the party in electoral oblivion, as despair about the chances at the general election expected in 2024 took hold once again.

Read more here

‘Architects of disaster’: Boris and Truss accused of destroying Tories

Tory chair Greg Hands blames ‘legacy’ issues, as moderates warn PM against further lurch to the right

Holly Evans20 October 2023 20:15
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I’m the heir to Blair, says Starmer after Tory ‘Armageddon’ by-election defeats

Sir Keir Starmer has cast himself as the heir to Tony Blair after his party clinched two major by-election victories in Tory safe seats which he jubilantly declared as a “game changer”.

The Labour leader insisted that his party would stay “humble” — but boasted that he could see the “summit” of a general election victory, as he cited Mr Blair’s 1997 triumph.

“What I do want to do is follow in the footsteps of a leader of our party who took us from opposition into power,” he said, after the huge majorities were overturned in Tamworth and Mid Bedfordshire.

Read the full story below

I’m the heir to Blair, says Starmer after Tory ‘Armageddon’ by-election defeats

Labour leader hails ‘game-changer’ victories which put his party on path to power

Holly Evans20 October 2023 19:30
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By-election blows comes one year after Liz Truss resigned

Mr Sunak was out of the country as the results came in, having been in Saudi Arabia and then Egypt on Friday as he toured the Middle East in the aftermath of the Hamas attacks on Israel.

The election blows were announced a year to the day after Mr Sunak’s predecessor Liz Truss resigned as prime minister and leave him with a headache as he prepares to mark his first anniversary in No 10.

Danny Kruger, a member of the New Conservatives made up of MPs elected since 2019, said the Tories needed to be “more robust and braver” ahead of the next election.

He urged Mr Sunak to reduce net migration numbers, cut taxes and intervene in the so-called culture wars, an area where he suggested Mr Sunak could have “real cut-through” with voters.

Holly Evans20 October 2023 18:41
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Reform UK claims his party matters at next election

Reform UK leader Richard Rice claimed last night’s byelection results, which saw his party finish third in Tamworth – getting more votes than Labour won by – showed that his party could have a “significant effect” at the election.

He also promised that his party would stand in every seat. “Yes I will keep my promise – 630 seats,” he tweeted.

Holly Evans20 October 2023 18:03
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PM says double by-election loss is ‘obviously disappointing’

The Prime Minister has described the double Conservative by-election losses in Tamworth and Mid Bedfordshire as “disappointing” but said there were “local factors at play”.

Rivals Labour took both seats, which enjoyed healthy Tory majorities, in results that party leader Sir Keir Starmer said “made history”.

Both contests were triggered by the high-profile departures of their previous MPs.

Speaking to broadcasters as he prepared to fly to the UK from Egypt, Mr Sunak said they were “obviously disappointing results” but that it was “important to remember the context”.

He said: “Mid-term elections are always difficult for incumbent governments.

“And of course there are also local factors at play here.”

The Prime Minister, who is returning after a diplomatic blitz of the Middle East, said he remained “committed to delivering on the priorities of the British people” following the defeats.

Rivals Labour succeeded in winning both by-election seats

Holly Evans20 October 2023 17:32

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