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Thu Jun 23, 2022, 08:42 AM

Boris Johnson faces double verdict as polls open in byelections

The Guardian

Boris Johnson faces a hugely important verdict from voters on Thursday as the Conservatives defend seats in Wakefield and in Tiverton and Honiton, with a double defeat likely to reignite speculation about a new challenge from Tory MPs.

The byelections were called after the respective MPs resigned in disgrace. Imran Ahmad Khan stepped down in Wakefield having been convicted of sexually assaulting a teenage boy, while Neil Parish quit in Tiverton and Honiton after watching pornography in the Commons.

The West Yorkshire seat had been safely Labour before Khan took it for the Conservatives in 2019, and Labour is the clear favourite to win on Thursday. The Devon constituency, in contrast, is seen as neck-and-neck between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, despite the seat in its various forms having been strongly Tory for more than a century.

Parish won in 2019 by a majority of more than 24,000. If the Lib Dems win, it is being billed as the biggest majority ever overturned in this way, although there have been higher percentage swings.

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