Rishi Sunak suffered a humiliating double by-election blow as Labour overturned huge Tory majorities in Tamworth and Mid-Bedfordshire on Thursday night.
The heavy defeats for the Conservatives made for a horrific night for the party which leaves the Labour on course for a major win in the next general election.
That victory saw a mammoth swing of 23.9 per cent from Tories to Labour - the biggest majority swing in British by-election history.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said that voters “overwhelmingly want change”, adding: “They’re ready to put their faith in our changed Labour party to deliver it.”
The party will point to the fact governing parties often suffer at by-elections - but the latest results mean the Conservatives have now lost eight by-elections since the 2019 general election, out of the 12 in total:
Hartlepool (May 2021): GAIN
Labour had held the seat since it was created in 1974. Prime Minister Boris Johnson hailed the result as support for his Government’s “levelling up agenda”.
Chesham & Amersham (June 2021): LOSS
The Liberal Democrats won the Buckinghamshire constituency of Chesham & Amersham from the Tories on a huge swing of 25.2 points, in what would become the first in a run of Lib Dem by-election gains at the expense of the Government.
Party leader Sir Ed Davey celebrated by using a yellow hammer to demolish a “blue wall” of model bricks.
Old Bexley & Sidcup (December 2021): HOLD
The Conservatives held this London seat in a by-election triggered by the death of MP James Brokenshire.
North Shropshire (December 2021): LOSS
The Lib Dems’ next victory came just six months after Chesham & Amersham, taking North Shropshire from the Conservatives on an even bigger swing of 34.1 points.
This was the second largest by-election swing against any government since the Second World War, at contests where a seat had changed hands.
Newly-elected MP Helen Morgan celebrated by using a long yellow pin to burst a large blue balloon.
Southend West (February 2022): HOLD
The Tories held this Essex seat in a by-election triggered by the murder of MP David Amess.
Wakefield (June 2022): LOSS
The Conservatives suffered two by-election losses on the same day in June 2022: the first time since 1991 that a government had endured two concurrent defeats.
Labour took Wakefield in West Yorkshire on a swing of 12.7 percentage points.
Tiverton & Honiton (June 2022): LOSS
The other defeat came in the Devon seat of Tiverton & Honiton.
The Liberal Democrats won the constituency with another huge swing, this time of 29.9 points.
Selby & Ainsty (July 2023): LOSS
The period between the Tiverton & Honiton and Selby & Ainsty by-elections saw the Conservatives go through a hat-trick of leaders: Boris Johnson, Liz Truss (for 49 days) and Rishi Sunak.
The Selby & Ainsty by-election in North Yorkshire was one of three to take place on the same day in July 2023 and saw Labour win the seat from the Tories on a swing of 23.7 points – at the time, Labour’s second-largest swing at a by-election since 1945.
Somerton & Frome (July 2023): LOSS
The Liberal Democrats clocked up another win in the Somerset seat of Somerton & Frome, taking it from the Conservatives on a swing of 29.0 points.
Sir Ed Davey celebrated by firing a cloud of yellow confetti from a blue circus cannon.
Uxbridge & South Ruislip (July 2023): HOLD
The third by-election to take place on the same day in July this year saw the Conservatives hold the outer London seat of Uxbridge & South Ruislip, in a contest triggered by the resignation of its MP and former prime minister Boris Johnson.
Labour needed a swing of 7.6 points to take the seat – far smaller than the swing the party achieved in Selby & Ainsty – but managed only 6.7 points.
Mid Bedfordshire (October 2023): LOSS
In the first of another double-bill of defeats, the Conservatives lost Mid Bedfordshire on a swing to Labour of 20.5 percentage points. It was the largest numerical Conservative majority (24,664) to be overturned by Labour at a by-election since 1945.
Tamworth (October 2023): LOSS
Labour’s victory at Tamworth saw a swing of 23.9 points: just enough to beat the swing at Selby & Ainsty and become the new second-largest swing by Labour at a by-election since 1945.