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Sunak loses two seats but spared whitewash

Keir Mather: youngest MP

Voters delivered two crushing by-election defeats on Rishi Sunak’s Conservatives last night, though the party surprisingly clung on to Boris Johnson’s former seat.

The Conservatives feared they would become the first governing party since 1968 to lose three by-elections on one night.

Labour overturned a 20,137 Tory majority in Selby & Ainsty with a majority of 4,161 following a 23.7% swing. This is almost double the 12% swing needed by Labour to win a majority at the next election.

The Liberal Democrats won Somerton & Frome by 11,008 votes, a 29% swing from the Conservatives to overturn a 19,213 majority.

But Steve Tuckwell won the Uxbridge & South Ruislip seat previously held by Mr Johnson, after a recount produced a significantly reduced majority of 495 votes, down from 7,210. However, some felt the seat had been lost by Labour because of London mayor Sadiq Khan’s unpopular ultra-low emission zone.

Steve Reed, the shadow justice secretary, admitted suburban voters were “very concerned” about the £12.50 daily charge, which comes into effect from 29 August.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, was cheered by the Selby & Ainsty result, won by 25-year-old Keir Mather who becomes the youngest MP in the House of Commons. If the result was repeated nationwide it would lead to a 1997-style landslide.

“It is clear just how powerful the demand for change is. Voters put their trust in us — many for the first time,” he said. “After 13 years of Tory chaos, only Labour can give the country its hope, its optimism and its future back.”

In Somerton & Frome, the Liberal Democrats overturned a 19,213 majority.. Sir Ed Davey, the party leader, said the result showed his party was “firmly back in the West Country”.

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