Wellingborough by-election date revealed after former Tory MP Peter Bone ousted following sexual misconduct probe

11 January 2024, 14:39

Peter Bone
Peter Bone. Picture: Alamy

By Kit Heren

The date of the Wellingborough by-election has been set, after the former Conservative MP Peter Bone was ousted from his seat following a report into sexual misconduct.

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Former Tory Peter Bone was forced to step down from the House Commons in December after more than 10% of constituents in his Northamptonshire seat voted to recall him.

This triggered the by-election, which has now been set for Thursday, February 15.

And Rishi Sunak could face another by-election headache on or around the same day, after Chris Skidmore, the MP for Kingswood in Gloucestershire, resigned over government plans to "prioritise and politicise new oil and gas licences".

Government chief whip Simon Hart issued the writs for the vacant seats of Wellingborough and Kingswood on Thursday.

Read more: Chris Skidmore formally resigns as MP over Sunak's oil and gas bill triggering fresh by-election headache for PM

Read more: Shocking moment Rishi Sunak refuses to endorse Tory candidate girlfriend of shamed ex-MP Peter Bone

Chris Skidmore
Chris Skidmore. Picture: Alamy

By-elections must take place within 21 and 27 working days from the time that the writs are issued.

The Conservatives secured healthy majorities of 18,540 in Wellingborough and 11,220 in Kingswood in the 2019 elections.

But larger Tory majorities have been overturned in recent by-elections. The Conservatives lost Mid-Bedfordshire, Nadine Dorries' former seat, in October, despite Ms Dorries having had a majority of 24,664 votes.

Labour also overturned a majority of more than 19,000 in Tamworth on the same night.

Since he became Prime Minister, Mr Sunak has lost a total of four by-elections. He only managed to retain Uxbridge and South Ruislip by 495 votes.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak refused to endorse Peter Bone's girlfriend
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak refused to endorse Peter Bone's girlfriend. Picture: Alamy

Mr Bone was found to have bullied and sexually harassed a former member of staff in a damning report last year.

He will be able to stand in the by-election as an independent candidate, but has yet to say if he will do so.

Mr Bone's girlfriend Helen Harrison will stand for the Conservatives. Rishi Sunak pointedly refused to endorse Ms Harrison at an event earlier this week.

Liberal Democrat deputy leader Daisy Cooper said: "One of these by-elections is a result of a sexual harassment scandal and the other from an MP who didn't want to be associated with the Conservative Party anymore.

Peter Bone's constituency office
Peter Bone's constituency office. Picture: Alamy

"Even Conservative MPs are tired of this Conservative Government so it's no wonder the public is crying out for a general election and an end to this chaos.

"Their majority is being whittled away with by-election after by-election as voters are given the opportunity to send a message to out-of-touch Rishi Sunak."

The general election is likely to be in the second half of 2024, Mr Sunak said earlier. Labour have a commanding lead in the polls.