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Former army major Richard Foord managed to overturn a gargantuan margin of 24,239 votes to become the Liberal Democrats fourteenth MP. His historic victory is the first time since the seat was created in 1997 that Tiverton and Honiton has not been blue.
It also represents the largest majority - in votes not percentage swing - ever overturned at a by-election, defeating a previous record set in Liverpool Wavertree in 1935.
Mr Foord, who secured 22,537 votes, told The Independent that he hadn’t been expecting to win. “This result is absolutely staggering. We weren’t expecting a win, let alone a win of this scale,” he said.
Tory candidate Helen Hurford, who refused to speak to media and hid in a dance studio when she arrived at the count, came in second with 16,393 votes.
In his victory speech, Mr Foord said the result had “sent a shockwave through British politics”.
He spoke directly to the prime minister and called on him to go, saying: “Your behaviour Mr Johnson, makes a mockery of leadership. By any measure, you are unfit to lead.”
Meanwhile in Wakefield, Labour secured a win over the Conservatives - inflicting a double defeat on Boris Johnson’s party. Simon Lightwood also used his victory speech to criticise the prime minister.
He warned: “Boris Johnson your contempt for this country is no longer tolerated.”
The wins for Labour and the Liberal Democrats will raise serious questions for Mr Johnson, who insisted on Thursday that he would not step down even if he lost both by-elections.
Tory MPs warned before the result that a loss in Tiverton would “be a disaster” and would mean “a loss of authority” in Mr Johnson.
Full results of Tiverton and Honiton by-election.
Liberal Democrat gain from Conservatives.
Richard Foord (LibDem) 22,537 (52.91%, +38.14%)
Helen Hurford (Con) 16,393 (38.49%, -21.72%)
Liz Pole (Lab) 1,562 (3.67%, -15.88%)
Gill Westcott (Green) 1,064 (2.50%, -1.34%)
Andy Foan (Reform) 481 (1.13%)
Ben Walker (UKIP) 241 (0.57%, -1.06%)
Jordan Donoghue-Morgan (Heritage) 167 (0.39%)
Frankie Rufolo (FB) 146 (0.34%)
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey reacted to the results, saying: “This should be a wake-up call for all those Conservative MPs propping up Boris Johnson. They cannot afford to ignore this result.”
Election victory for the Liberal Democrats was likely to have been delivered by a coalition of disgruntled Conservative voters and tactical Labour voters. There had been speculation in the lead up to the vote of a Lib-Lab voting pact but Labour candidate Liz Pole insisted that she was campaigning to win.
She came in third, with 1,562 votes.
The results were announced at around 4am on Friday morning at Lords Meadow Leisure Centre in Crediton.
The by-election was triggered after Conservative MP Neil Parish resigned after admitting to watching porn in the House of Commons.
Mr Parish won 60 percent of the vote in the 2019 election, with Labour coming in second on 19 percent and the Lib Dems in third on 15 percent.
The Lib Dem win adds to a streak of successes, following a win against the Tories in Chesham and Amersham last June and North Shropshire in December.