Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Chart of the Day
24 June 2022

How the Tories suffered the biggest by-election defeat in British history

The previous record had stood for almost 90 years before the Tiverton and Honiton vote.

By Afiq Fitri

The Conservatives have suffered the biggest by-election defeat in British history after the Liberal Democrats overturned a 24,239 majority to win Tiverton and Honiton, a seat held by the Tories since its creation in 1997. The previous record was held by Labour, which overturned a 23,927 Tory majority at the 1935 by-election in Liverpool Wavertree. 

The Tiverton and Honiton by-election was triggered by the resignation of Neil Parish, the seat’s Conservative MP, after he admitted watching pornography in the House of Commons. It marks the third safe Conservative seat the Liberal Democrats have won in this parliament, following North Shropshire (where the Tories had a majority of 22,949) and Chesham and Amersham (a majority of 16,223).



Oliver Dowden, the Conservative Party co-chairman, resigned shortly after the results were declared, telling the Prime Minister in a letter that “somebody needs to take responsibility” and that “we cannot continue with business as usual”. But Boris Johnson, speaking from Rwanda, where he is attending the Commonwealth heads of government meeting, said that while he took responsibility for the results, he would “keep going” and “listen” to voters.

“The people of Tiverton and Honiton have spoken for Britain,” said Richard Foord, its new Liberal Democrat MP. “They have sent a loud and clear message that it’s time for Boris Johnson to go.”

The Tories also suffered another by-election defeat in Wakefield last night, with Labour regaining the Red Wall seat with a majority of 4,921.

Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Your guide to the best writing across politics, ideas, books and culture - both in the New Statesman and from elsewhere - sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.

[See also: The informal Labour-Lib Dem alliance could doom the Tories

Content from our partners
How do we restore trust in the public sector?
A better future starts at home
How to create an inclusive workplace and embrace neurodiversity

Topics in this article : , ,