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Mon, 15 July 2024

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Labour Smashes Two Tory Majorities With By-Election Wins In Wellingborough And Kingswood

Labour's Gen Kitchen won the Wellingborough by-election (Alamy)

3 min read

Labour has overturned two large Tory majorities with by-election wins in Wellingborough and Kingswood, marking another disappointing set of results for beleaguered Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

"These are fantastic results in Kingswood and Wellingborough that show people want change and are ready to put their faith in a changed Labour Party to deliver it," Labour leader Keir Starmer said.

In Wellingborough, Labour overturned a majority of more than 18,000. The East Midlands seat will be represented by Gen Kitchen after she secured 13,844 with a majority of 6,436 and achieving a 28.5 per cent swing from the 2019 general election result.

She beat Conservative candidate Helen Harrison, the partner of former MP Peter Bone, who received 7,408 votes. Bone removed by a recall petition at the end of last year after an independent watchdog concluded that he carried out acts of bullying and one act of sexual misconduct, which he denies.

Speaking after her victory this morning, Kitchen said: “The people of Wellingborough have spoken for Britain. This is a stunning victory for the Labour party and must send a message from Northamptonshire to Downing Street.”

The seat was last represented by a Labour MP in 2005, having been red through the early years of Tony Blair's government. However, it had become a safe Conservative seat in the following years, with Bone securing a majority of 18,540 at the 2019 general election. 

Helen Harrison said she was "disappointed" by the result. 

In the Kingswood by-election, Labour overturned a majority of more than 11,000 to win. The South Gloucestershire seat will be represented by Damien Egan, the former mayor of Lewisham in London, after he secured 11,1176 votes and a majority of 2,501, achieving a 16.4 per cent swing.

Damien Egan
Damien Egan is the new Labour MP for Kingswood (Alamy)

He beat Conservative candidate Sam Bromiley with 8,675 votes, who largely ran his campaign on "saving the green belt" around Bristol. 

Former Tory MP for Kingswood Chris Skidmore resigned earlier this year in protest against the government's bill to allow new oil and gas licences to be issued in the North Sea. 

Skidmore had held the seat since 2010, when he won it from Labour in a general election. Before 2010, the seat had been represented by Labour since 1992.

“Fourteen years of Conservative government have sucked the hope out of our country," Egan said after his victory this morning.

There’s a feeling that no matter how hard you work, you just can’t move forward, and with Rishi’s recession we are left once again paying more and getting less.”

The constituency of Kingswood is set to be abolished at the next general election, with the area instead absorbed into a new constituency called Bristol North East. With a general election expected by the end of this year, Egan has also been selected as the Labour candidate for the new constituency.

Reform UK, formerly the Brexit Party, achieved a record result in these by-elections, coming third in both Kingswood and Wellingborough ahead of the Liberal Democrats, with 10 per cent and 13 per cent of the vote share respectively. However, even if the Conservatives had won all the votes that went to Reform, they would have still lost both by-elections. 

The voter turnout was low in both contests, at 38 per cent in Wellingborough and at 37.1 per cent in Kingswood.

Conservative Party chairman Richard Holden told Times Radio that while he was "obviously disappointed" in the results, but insisted they were "not seeing a big switch to Labour”.

Pointing to the low turnout, he said: "I don't think there's any clear numbers which are indicating Labour suddenly getting huge numbers of Conservative switchers to them on the doorstep.”

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