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By-election in Tory stronghold ‘neck and neck’, Liberal Democrats claim as v

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An important by-election within the Conservative stronghold of Tiverton and Honiton is “neck and neck”, in accordance with the Liberal Democrats, who’re aiming for a serious political upset within the Devon seat.

As voters prepare to go to the polls on Thursday in two by-elections, Sir Ed Davey suggested his party “could possibly be on the verge of a historic victory” within the southwest constituency – overturning a 24,000 Tory majority.

The second ballot shall be held in Wakefield – a “red wall” seat Sir Keir Starmer is hoping to seize back for Labour after it fell to the Tories on the 2019 election for the primary time for the reason that constituency was created in 1932.

Conservative MPs told The Independent on the weekend a double by-election defeat on Thursday could be a “disaster” for the embattled Boris Johnson, who narrowly survived a vote of no confidence a fortnight ago.

Writing in The Independent, polling expert Professor Sir John Curtice suggests that Labour “must have little difficulty” in winning the Wakefield by-election by achieving a swing of a bit of lower than 4 per cent.

Many Tory MPs are privately expecting a “big defeat” within the Yorkshire constituency after a poll by JL Partners earlier this month gave Labour’s candidate Simon Lightwood a 20-point lead over his Tory rival, Nadeem Ahmed.

Sir John said a 20-point lead – representing a swing of around 14 per cent – is “probably the sort of result that the party needs to realize whether it is to suggest that it may be able to posing a much bigger threat to the Conservatives than it did on the last three general elections”.

In Tiverton and Honiton, nonetheless, the polling expert warned success for the Liberal Democrats “is not at all guaranteed”, and that the collapse of Labour support within the constituency “could well be crucial to the consequence”.

He added: “The party remains to be no stronger within the national polls than it was on the last general election – so it’s wholly reliant on the momentum that it may possibly generate locally. Success will depend not only its ability to garner the support of dissatisfied Conservatives but in addition the tactical support of those that would otherwise vote Labour.”

Keir Starmer addressing supporters in Wakefield earlier this week

(Getty )

The previous Conservative cabinet minister Kenneth Baker tore into Mr Johnson at a pre-by-election event, saying he had “no vision or strategy” and was leading his party to defeat.

Lord Baker, the Tory chairman under Margaret Thatcher, said the UK is crying out for “a healer”, like Harold MacMillan within the Nineteen Fifties – but that will not be the prime minister’s approach.

“Boris doesn’t do healing – he does confrontation, which he’s superb at. But this will not be the sensation and the mood within the country in the intervening time,” the peer said.

Mr Johnson is “mainly concerned about headlines the next day”, he said, adding: “I can’t see the way it becomes any higher if he does survive for an additional two years.”

Vince Cable, the previous Liberal Democrat cabinet minister, told the event, organised by the betting company $markets, that the prime minister may be tempted by a “dangerous” autumn general election.

“He’s a gambling man, he’s gambled successfully prior to now,” Sir Vince said, adding there are rumours that preparations are underway.

Speaking before voters begin heading to the polls, Sir Ed said voters in Tiverton and Honiton are “fed up of Boris Johnson’s lies and neglect”, with families also facing soaring energy bills and increasing food prices.

“It is a once in a generation likelihood to finish years of neglect and get a greater deal for Devon, by backing the Liberal Democrats and Richard Foord,” he insisted.

“We could possibly be on the verge of a historic victory, nevertheless it is now neck and neck between the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives and each vote will count”.

But speaking within the Commons on Wednesday at Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr Johnson appeared bullish about his party’s prospects.

He told MPs he had “absolutely little doubt” people in each constituencies “would much moderately vote for a solid Conservative government than for a Labour Party, their enablers and acolytes within the Liberal Democrats, the karma chameleons of British politics”.

Lib Dem leader Ed Davey on the campaign trail in Tiverton and Honiton

(PA)

The Tiverton and Honiton by-election was triggered earlier this 12 months after the resignation of former Tory MP Neil Parish, who was on the centre of a political storm after admitting watching pornography within the Commons chamber.

A vote was also triggered within the Wakefield seat, where the Tories have a majority of three,358, after the previous Conservative MP Imran Ahmad Khan was jailed following a conviction in April for sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy.

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