Neil Parish formally resigns as MP after pornography scandal
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Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s party is battling to hold on to two parliamentary seats in two by-elections on Thursday. One is in Tiverton and Honiton, which is a traditionally Conservative part of Devon. The second is in Wakefield, which at the last General Election voted Tory for the first time in 90 years.
Freelance journalist Tanya Gold, in an Unherd article entitled The Tories deserve to lose Tiverton, described Tiverton and Honiton’s Tory candidate Helen Hurford as “the worst” she has come across.
Ms Gold said: “I have covered many by-elections and Hurford is the worst candidate I have found.”
She added: “Hurford has that hard, unyielding brightness. It shines. It lets nothing in.
“She is a typically Johnsonian Tory: evasive, anti-intellectual and self-obsessed; quick to anger when threatened; slow to change her mind, if she ever does. “
Former primary school headteacher Ms Hurford is quoted as describing the resignation of the Prime Minister’s ethics adviser Lord Geidt as “very Westmistery” during a hustings in the Devon constituency.
She is reported as saying: “It’s very Westmistery. That’s the expression I use. I’m not in Westminster but my understanding is that it was a commercially sensitive issue.”
The by-election is being held after Tory MP Neil Parish resigned. He admitted watching porn in the House of Commons.
Mr Parish won the seat at the 2019 General Election with a thumping 24,239 majority.
A loss for the Conservatives on Thursday would further dent the PM’s reputation as a vote winner and see Tory MPs who fear for their futures try to move against him.
Polling on voting intention carried out by the Liberal Democrats puts the party’s candidate Richard Foord neck and neck with Ms Hurford.
Each garner 45 percent from a survey of 6,000 constituents, the poll shows.
The Lib Dems are the main challenger in the constituency, but it would take a swing of 22.8 points for them to win.
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This is equivalent to 23 in every 100 people who voted Conservative in 2019 switching to the Sir Ed Davey’s party.
Part-time yoga teacher Jenny Kane, 72, said she usually voted Conservative, but would not do so now because of unresolved tensions with the European Union and the partygate scandal.
She said: “I don’t think he’s done Brexit at all. Partygate is the final straw. I’m disgusted.”
Lizzie Bowman, 58, said: “I would have voted Conservative if it wasn’t for the situation with the immigration flights to Rwanda.
“That’s made a massive difference to myself and my husband.”
Two by-elections happening on the same day is not uncommon in Britain, but a Government losing two by-elections on the same day is extremely rare.
It last happened more than 30 years ago when on November 7 1991, John Major’s Government lost the seat of Langbaurgh in Cleveland to Labour and also Kincardine and Deeside in Scotland to the Liberal Democrats.
If the Conservatives lost both of the by-elections taking place this week it would be only the seventh time a Government has suffered a double defeat since the Second World War.
Eight candidates are running in the Tiverton and Honiton by-election.
They are: Jordan Donoghue-Morgan (Heritage Party); Andy Foan (Reform UK); Richard Foord (Liberal Democrats); Helen Hurford (Conservative and Unionist Party); Liz Pole (Labour); Frankie Rufolo (The For Britain Movement); Ben Walker (UK Independence Party) and Gill Westcott (Greens).
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