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Johnson ‘stuffed with optimism’ as polls shut in crunch by-elections


oris Johnson insisted he was “stuffed with optimism and buoyancy” as he awaited the outcomes of two by-elections which might have vital implications for his management.

Polls have closed in Wakefield and Tiverton and Honiton after contests triggered by Conservative MPs resigning in shame.

With Labour difficult within the pink wall seat in West Yorkshire and the Liberal Democrats hoping to overturn an enormous Conservative majority in Devon, defeat for the Tories might elevate additional questions on Mr Johnson’s place, simply weeks after 41% of his MPs mentioned they didn’t trust in him.

The Prime Minister shall be monitoring the outcomes from Rwanda, the place he’s attending the Commonwealth leaders summit.

Talking to broadcasters within the capital Kigali, the Prime Minister mentioned: “I’m going to be watching the outcomes with curiosity however all the time stuffed with optimism and buoyancy however most seasoned political observers know that by-elections in mid-term are by no means essentially straightforward for any authorities.”

He has urged it might be “loopy”for him to give up if the social gathering misplaced the 2 seats and claimed he was “very hopeful” concerning the outcomes.

In Wakefield, ex-Conservative MP Imran Ahmad Khan give up after being discovered responsible of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy – a criminal offense for which he was jailed for 18 months.

Former Conservative Wakefield MP Imran Ahmad Khan was convicted of molesting a teenage boy (Dominic Lipinski/PA) / PA Wire

Wakefield was one of many so-called pink wall seats received by the Tories within the 2019 normal election after being a Labour stronghold for the reason that Nineteen Thirties, however Labour is now hoping to take it again.

In Devon’s Tiverton and Honiton, Neil Parish, the Tory MP since 2010, resigned after admitting he had watched pornography on his cellphone within the Home of Commons.

The Liberal Democrats are the primary challenger on this rural south-western constituency, the place they’re hoping to recreate by-election wins in North Shropshire in December and Chesham and Amersham a 12 months in the past.

Victory for the Lib Dems would require overturning a Conservative majority of 24,239, however social gathering chief Sir Ed Davey was assured they have been “neck and neck” with the Tories on the eve of the vote.

Tory Neil Parish resigned as Tiverton and Honiton MP after watching pornography within the Commons (Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament/PA) / PA Media

Residents are “fed up of Boris Johnson’s lies and neglect,” he mentioned, as he referred to as on them to again his social gathering’s candidate, former soldier Richard Foord.

“Farmers have been bought out by international commerce offers, persons are struggling to entry GPs and dentists, and native roads and colleges have been left to crumble.

“Households are going through hovering petrol payments and meals costs and this authorities’s solely reply is to hammer them with fixed tax rises”.

The Prime Minister urged voters to “stick up for British meals and farming” by supporting Tory Helen Hurford, a former head instructor.

In a video shared on social media on Wednesday, Mr Johnson appeared alongside the candidate on a farm, saying the social gathering was working to guard “our improbable meals and farming business and “wonderful agricultural sector”.

Dropping the Tory stronghold could be seen as an indication of Mr Johnson’s diminishing electoral attraction after partygate and amid the cost-of-living disaster, and will spark an extra backlash in opposition to his authority.

The Tories face a steeper problem in retaining the Wakefield seat, with Labour now odds-on favourites to overturn the 2019 Conservative majority of three,358.

Tory candidate Nadeem Ahmed raised eyebrows by arguing final week that voters ought to nonetheless belief the social gathering after Mr Khan’s sexual assault conviction, simply as they nonetheless belief GPs regardless of the crimes of mass assassin Harold Shipman.

Labour chief Sir Keir Starmer has mentioned a victory within the northern constituency “may very well be the birthplace of the subsequent Labour authorities”.

Labour chief Sir Keir Starmer instructed supporters in Wakefield {that a} victory there might herald the subsequent Labour authorities (Dave Higgens/PA) / PA Wire

On the eve of polls opening, he mentioned: “The general public is fed up of Boris Johnson and a Conservative Occasion that guarantees huge however by no means delivers.

“Labour’s candidate Simon Lightwood has run a constructive marketing campaign – with a plan to draw well-paid jobs and funding to Wakefield, put extra police on the streets to sort out anti-social behaviour, and to battle for scrapping the unfair Nationwide Insurance coverage rise.

“However a vote for anybody apart from Labour will let Boris Johnson off the hook. The folks of Wakefield have an opportunity to ship a message to the Tories that sufficient is sufficient”.

If the Conservatives have been to lose each by-elections, it might be solely the seventh time a authorities has suffered such a double defeat for the reason that Second World Battle.

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