Polls close in Wellingborough and Kingswood by-elections as Rishi Sunak faces double defeat

15 February 2024, 23:07 | Updated: 15 February 2024, 23:40

Voting has finished in two by-elections
Voting has finished in two by-elections. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

Polls have closed in the Wellingborough and Kingswood by-elections as Rishi Sunak faces a double defeat.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

The Tories are defending their seats in South Gloucestershire and Northamptonshire after both Chris Skidmore and Peter Bone left their roles.

The elections follow a week of difficult headlines for both the Conservatives and Labour.

The Tories have faced questions over their economic record after it emerged on Thursday that the UK had entered a recession at the end of 2023.

Meanwhile, Labour has been mired in an antisemitism row and criticism of its decision to withdraw a pledge to spend £28 billion on green projects.

Both contests are seen largely as two-horse races between Labour and the Conservatives, but could also provide an indication of the strength of Reform UK, which has seen its polling numbers surge as it targets voters on the right.

Read more: Rishi Sunak contemplates defence budget boost amid warship concerns and foreign threats

Read more: London Overground strikes by RMT workers called off for next week following improved pay offer

Votes are counted for the Kingswood by-election
Votes are counted for the Kingswood by-election. Picture: Alamy

The Kingswood by-election was triggered by Chris Skidmore's resignation as an MP over legislation being introduced to boost North Sea oil and gas drilling.

Labour needs a much smaller swing to overturn the Conservative majority of 11,220 than those it recently secured in Tamworth, Selby and Ainsty and Mid Bedfordshire.

Meanwhile, the Wellingborough by-election was triggered after Peter Bone received a six-week suspension from the Common, following an inquiry which found he had subjected a staff member to bullying and sexual misconduct.

His majority in 2019 was 18,540, leaving Labour with a tougher task than in Kingswood.

His partner, Helen Harrison, was selected as the Tory candidate in his former seat, with the PM last month declining to say whether he would be campaigning for her following the controversial move.

Ballot boxes arrive as polls close and counting begins for the Wellingborough by-election
Ballot boxes arrive as polls close and counting begins for the Wellingborough by-election. Picture: Alamy

A defeat for Mr Sunak in either or both Wellingborough and Kingswood would mean the Tories have lost more by-elections in a parliament than any government since the 1966-70 Labour administration of Harold Wilson.

It could also raise concerns among Conservative MPs that Mr Sunak will not be able to lead them to victory at the next general election.

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Assange was released from Belmarsh Prison in London on Monday

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange leaves UK after being freed in US plea deal

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has reached a plea deal.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will not be extradited to US after reaching plea deal

Princess Anne is reportedly unable to remember what happened due to the nature of the injury.

Princess Anne ‘unable to recall exactly what happened’ after being ‘hit by horse’ as she faces several days in hospital

England have qualified for the last 16 at Euro 2024.

England qualify for last 16 at Euro 2024 after Spain beat Albania

Rishi Sunak criticised Labour's proposed plans to tackle migration rates in the UK.

UK would be ‘illegal migration capital of world’ under Labour, Sunak says as he sets out plans to ‘stop the boats’

Labour has made cutting knife crime a 'moral mission' should the party come to power

Labour makes cutting knife crime a 'moral mission' as Starmer proposes new child criminal exploitation offence

Spanish police are investigating if Jay's 'background' is relevant to the disappearance.

Spanish police searching for Jay Slater investigate if teenager’s background is ‘relevant’ to his disappearance

Lord Kinnock has said he would not wish being part of the current Tory government on his 'most bloodthirsty enemies'.

‘I wish I was fighting this lot’, ex-Labour leader Lord Kinnock says as he brands current Tory party 'superficial'

The president of Finland has said he 'doesn't agree with many things' Nigel Farage says in response to his comments on the war in Ukraine.

'Absolutely not': Finland's president dismisses Nigel Farage’s claim that Nato provoked Russia's war in Ukraine

A man went missing in the water off Bournemouth beach (file image)

Huge search operation launched for man missing in water off Bournemouth beach

Bosses face £1,000 fine for letting employees watch England's Euros clash with Denmark in the office

Offices showing England v Slovenia Euros clash could face hefty £1,000 fine

Princess Anne has been injured by a horse

King Charles sends 'fondest love’ to Princess Anne who will ‘quickly bounce back’ after being hit by horse

Callum the stag was "humanely euthanised".

Tourists blamed for death of 'legendary' stag after it was fed Rice Krispies and croissants

The Reform UK leader's comments came as he spoke to supporters at a rally in Kent on Tuesday, slamming the current government's ability to control immigration.

Farage warns of Channel migrant 'invasion' from countries 'with terrorism, gang culture and war zones'

Gavin Plumb is accused of plotting to kidnap Holly Willoughby

Obsessed security guard ‘plotted to keep Holly Willoughby in dungeon where screams couldn't be heard for miles'

At least two people have died in the fire

At least two dead as Moscow defence research centre bursts into flames ‘with staff trapped inside’