“Wakefield has shown that the country has lost faith in the Tories,” said Labor leader Keir Starmer
The by-election was triggered when former Conservative MP Imran Ahmad Khan resigned after being found guilty of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy – for which he was sentenced to 18 months in prison.
Labour’s Simon Lightwood has won the Wakefield by-election to take the Tories’ seat, while party leader Sir Keir Starmer hailed the victory as a ‘clear verdict’ on the government.
Following his victory, Mr. Lightwood declared, “The people of Wakefield and across the country are fed up with the deceit and dishonesty of this administration.”
It comes on the same night the Conservatives lost by-elections in Tiverton and Honiton to the Liberal Democrats in Devon, putting more pressure on Boris Johnson.
In the wake of the defeats, Oliver Dowden resigned as leader of the Conservative Party in an explosive letter to Mr Johnson, marking another seismic blow to the Prime Minister.
Mr Johnson has vowed to “carry on” after two humiliating defeats in the by-election.
Wakefield was one of the so-called Red Wall seats won by the Tories in the 2019 general election, having been a Labor stronghold since the 1930s.
Mr Lightwood was elected by a majority of 4,925 in a 12.7 percent move from Tories to Labour.
He said: “The people of Wakefield have spoken on behalf of the British people.
“You said unreservedly: Boris Johnson, your contempt for this country will no longer be tolerated.”
Labor’s victory in the West Yorkshire constituency marked “the birthplace of the next Labor government” and showed that the party was “rebuilding the red wall”, he said.
After the win, Sir Keir said: “Wakefield showed that the country has lost faith in the Tories.
“This result is a clear verdict on a conservative party that has run out of energy and ideas. Britain deserves better.”
He said the result showed Labor was “back with working people, winning seats where we lost before and ready to govern”.
Mr Dowden announced his resignation in an explosive letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, writing that “someone has to take responsibility” after the Liberal Democrats toppled a 24,000 Tory majority to win in Tiverton and Honiton and Labor retook Wakefield.
Mr Dowden said in his letter to the Prime Minister the by-elections were “the latest in a series of very bad results for our party”.
“Our supporters are shocked and disappointed by recent events and I share their feelings,” he wrote.
“We cannot continue as usual. Someone has to take responsibility and I have come to the conclusion that in the circumstances it would not be right to remain in office.”
The MP ended his letter by saying: “I would like to stress that this is a deeply personal decision that I made alone.
“I will remain loyal to the Conservative Party as always.”