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Starmer hails 'redrawing political map' as Tories suffers double by-election defeat
20 October 2023, 03:30 | Updated: 20 October 2023, 06:23
Labour has won two by-elections from the Conservatives in a sensational night for Sir Keir Starmer's party, which he said was 'redrawing the political map'.
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Tamworth and Mid Bedfordshire both went from blue to red early on Friday morning, overturning huge majorities in both constituencies.
In Tamworth, Labour's Sarah Edwards defeated Tory Andrew Cooper. Edwards won 11,719 votes in the Staffordshire race compared to Cooper's 10,403 - giving her a majority of 1,316.
Sir Keir Starmer said after his party won both seats: "These are phenomenal results that show Labour is back in the service of working people and redrawing the political map.
"Winning in these Tory strongholds shows that people overwhelmingly want change and they're ready to put their faith in our changed Labour Party to deliver it.
"Voters across Mid Bedfordshire, Tamworth and Britain want a Labour government determined to deliver for working people, with a proper plan to rebuild our country.
"To those who have given us their trust, and those considering doing so, Labour will spend every day acting in your interests and focused on your priorities. Labour will give Britain its future back."
Tamworth saw a turnout of 35.9%, with a total of 25,630 votes - aa swing of 23.9%, the highest by-election swing to Labour since 1945.
In Mid Bedfordshire, Labour's Alistair Strathern beat the Conservative Festus Akinbusoye. Labour won 13,872 votes, compared to the Conservatives' 12,680 votes, for a majority of 1,192. That was a swing of 20.5%.
The Liberal Democrats won 9,420 votes. The turnout was 44%.
The by-elections were triggered by resignation of former Conservative MPs Nadine Dorries and Chris Pincher.
Mid Bedfordshire had been a Conservative seat since 1931 and former Culture Secretary Dorries had a majority of 24,664 votes.
The Conservatives had had a 19,600 majority in Tamworth.
The overturning of two huge Tory majorities comes just under a year after Rishi Sunak took over as PM, following the disastrous short tenure of Liz Truss.
Edwards said after her victory: "The people of Tamworth have made it clear: it's time for change."
"They've sent a clear message to Rishi Sunak and the Conservatives that they have had enough of this failed government which has crashed the economy and destroyed our public services."
Mid Bedfordshire's Strathern said: "After decades of being taken for granted, feeling left behind, feeling under-represented, they made the decision it was time for a change."
Dorries, a former Cabinet minister under Boris Johnson, stepped down as an MP after being denied a peerage in Boris Johnson's resignation honours list.
Pincher resigned after he was found to have drunkenly groped two men in an "egregious case of sexual misconduct" at the Carlton Club in London last year.
That scandal helped trigger Mr Johnson's departure from Downing Street, as a result of his handling of the situation.
The results will send shockwaves through Westminster, and make for ominous reading for Rishi Sunak as he prepares to lead the Conservatives into the next general election.
But Sir Keir and his party will be feeling very buoyed by the twin victories as he looks to become the first Labour Prime Minister since 2010.
This was the third and fourth by-elections Labour has won in 2023, after victories in Selby and Ainsty in July, and Rutherglen and Hamilton West earlier this month.