Labour clinches two by-election wins in Kingswood and Wellingborough


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Prime Minister Rishi Sunak suffered a severe blow on Friday as the Labour party won the formerly safe Conservative seat of Kingswood, in what the opposition party hopes is a harbinger of victory at the general election expected this year.

The Labour party overturned a Tory majority of 11,000 in Kingswood in South Gloucestershire and expects to confirm a win in Wellingborough in Northamptonshire in the coming hours.

While by-elections do not always provide an accurate picture of what will happen at a nationwide election, the results point to growing disaffection towards the Conservatives. Labour won 11,176 votes, while the Tories took 8,675. Reform UK came in third with 2,578.

Labour has secured a string of by-election wins in recent months, having taken four seats from the Conservatives since July. Keir Starmer, leader of the Labour party, said the result in Kingswood “shows people are ready to put their trust in a Labour government”.

“By winning in this Tory stronghold, we can confidently say that Labour is back in the service of working people and we will work tirelessly to deliver for them,” he said.

The results will come as a relief to Starmer, who has suffered one of the most challenging fortnights of his leadership. 

The Labour leader faced severe criticism for abandoning a pledge to spend £28bn a year on green investment, and then sparked anger from the left and right of his party after he dithered before suspending two party candidates for remarks that were critical of Israel. 

A Savanta poll released on Wednesday showed Labour’s lead over the Tories dropping by seven points to its lowest level since June 2023.

The results cap a challenging few days for the Conservatives, who spent Thursday battling accusations that they were responsible for tipping the UK into a recession.

The Conservatives, who are trailing the Labour party by around 18 percentage points in polls, were conspicuously absent from the campaign trail in both Kingswood and Wellingborough even though they had held both seats for at least two decades. 

Damien Egan, the new Labour MP for Kingswood, was formerly mayor of Lewisham in south London.

His new seat will be abolished at the general election as part of a shake-up of constituency boundaries and he will contest Bristol North East instead.

The Kingswood by-election was called after the former MP Chris Skidmore, an outspoken environmentalist, resigned in protest at the government’s decision to grant new oil and gas licences.

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