Liberal Democrat Richard Foord has been elected as the new MP for Tiverton and Honiton, in a landmark election result.
The Liberal Democrats overcame a huge Tory majority to win by more than 6,000 votes in the poll caused by the resignation of Conservative Neil Parish after he was caught viewing pornography on his phone in the House of Commons.
Mr Foord said in a speech after his election: “Tonight, the people of Tiverton and Honiton have spoken for Britain.
“They’ve sent a loud and clear message: It’s time for Boris Johnson to go and go now.
“Ours is a great country and there’s no greater part of it than Devon. But everyday Boris Johnson clings to office, he brings further shame, chaos and neglect.”
The former Army major said the loss of one of the Conservatives’ most safe seats meant many Tory MPs were now in their sights.
“Communities like ours are on their knees. Every one of us standing on this stage tonight, standing as candidates has heard the pain people are suffering as the cost-of-living crisis starts to bite,” he said.
“Yet when Boris Johnson could be fighting for farmers, for our NHS and for rural services, he’ll be fighting once again to save his own skin.
Watch Liberal Democrat MP Richard Foord speak following his victory
“I also have a simple message for those Conservative MPs propping up this failing Prime Minister: The Liberal Democrats are coming.
The Liberal Democrat win in the rural south-western constituency, echoes last year’s by-election victories in North Shropshire and Chesham and Amersham.
Combined with the loss in Wakefield, it is only the seventh time a government has suffered such a double defeat since the Second World War.
The Conservative party previously held a strong majority of 24,239 when former MP Neil Parish was elected to represent the constituency for the fourth time during the 2019 General Election.
A by-election was triggered after Mr Parish stood down in May, when he admitted to watching pornography on his phone in the Houses of Parliament.
The result is huge achievement for the Lib Dems, and even though they had been named as the bookies’ favourite to take the seat, party members and leaders were always clear that it was a battle to be won.
Party leader Sir Ed Davey kicked off the campaign for candidate Richard Foord in May, with confidence growing within the party throughout the campaign.
The fallout from Partygate and Sue Gray’s report, as well as the vote of confidence in Boris Johnson returning a lower majority than he had hoped, may have had some sway with voting behaviour in the West Country.
However the bad press didn’t stop the PM from rallying support in the South West, with Boris Johnson visiting the Royal Cornwall show and also mucking in on a Cornish farm to solidify his promise to make things better for farmers - a key factor for voters in Devon.
The results will come as a blow to the Conservatives, as a third seat is lost to the Lib Dems through by-election.