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BORIS JOHNSON is hanging “on to the door handle at No 10,” politicians said today following the Tories humiliating double by-election loss.
On Thursday evening, Labour and Co-op MP Simon Lightwood defeated Tory candidate Nadeem Ahmed by 4,925 votes on a swing of 12.7 per cent, in the so-called “red wall” seat of Wakefield to overturn a majority of 3,358.
The last time Labour gained a seat from the Tories was in Corby in November 2012.
The Tories also lost their stronghold of Tiverton and Honiton where the Liberal Democrat candidate Richard Foord won with more than 22,000 votes to overturn a 24,000 Tory majority from the last general election — a swing of almost 30 per cent.
Celebrating his victory, Mr Lightwood said: “I think people are absolutely tired of the lies and deceit we’ve seen from the Prime Minister and they’re demanding change.
“And tonight is the demonstration of that.”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer hailed his party’s victory as a “great result,” adding: “The Tory Party is absolutely imploding.
“They know they’re out of ideas and they’re out of touch.
“If they had any decency, they’d get out of the way for the next Labour government because what happened here in Wakefield was people exercising their judgement on this Conservative government and voting no confidence.”
The by-election hammering led to a dawn resignation by Tory Party co-chairman Oliver Dowden this morning.
In his resignation letter to the PM, Mr Dowden said that he and Tory supporters are “distressed and disappointed by recent events,” telling Mr Johnson: “Someone must take responsibility.”
Tory grandee Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown voiced fears over retaining his own seat at the next general election.
Sir Geoffrey, treasurer of the backbench 1922 committee, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think, factually, if I were to run under a bus today it would be difficult to hold my seat.
“There’s no doubt about that.”
A steady stream of Tories placed the blame for the crushing defeats firmly at the door of Mr Johnson.
Former Tory leader Michael Howard told the BBC’s World at One programme that fresh leadership was needed and urged MPs to change the rules to allow for another vote of no confidence or the Cabinet should follow Mr Dowden’s example in resigning.
The peer said Mr Johnson’s biggest asset has always been his ability to win votes “but I’m afraid yesterday’s results make it clear that he no longer has that ability.”
A fierce critic of Mr Johnson, Sir Roger Gale, said the PM was choosing to “hang on to the door handle at No 10.”
Former treasury minister Jesse Norman, tweeted a quote from his letter earlier this year where he called on Mr Johnson to resign, writing: “For you to prolong this charade only insults the electorate, and the people who support, volunteer, represent and campaign for our party.”
Simon Hoare, Tory MP for North Dorset, which is not far from Tiverton and Honiton, said Mr Dowden was “not to blame.”
Excusing the poll results, Deputy PM Dominic Raab told The Today programme the government needed to be “relentlessly focused on delivery, not allow the distractions of recent times to take our eye off the ball.”
Speaking from Rwanda, where he is attending the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Mr Johnson acknowledged that the results are “tough” but vowed to “keep going.”
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