Boris Johnson is at risk of losing two key by-elections taking place today, according to a leading pollster.
Professor Sir John Curtice said he should win back Wakefield, which they lost to the Conservatives in the last general election in 2019.
Meanwhile, the Lib Dems could topple the Tories’ 24,000 majority in Tiverton and Honiton if enough Labor voters decide to give them their vote this time.
It would be the first time in 30 years that a sitting prime minister suffered a double by-election defeat on the same day.
Curtice wrote in The Independent: “A little less than 4 per cent jump from Conservative to Labour [in Wakefield] would be enough for Sir Keir Starmer to retake the seat and record his party’s first by-election victory under his leadership.
“Workers should hardly be able to overcome this hurdle.”
But the polling expert said Labor needs to win by around 20 points – up around 14 per cent since 2019 – to show they are on course to govern in the next election.
A shadow cabinet minister told HuffPost UK that he expects the party to win by a margin of 3,000 to 4,000 votes “or 5,000 on a good night”.
In Tiverton and Honiton the picture is less clear, Curtice said, although the Lib Dems have a very good chance of picking up an overwhelming victory.
“Success will not only depend on that [the Lib Dems’] Ability to garner support from disaffected Conservatives, but also tactical support from those who would otherwise vote for Labor,” he said.
“Whether or not Labor votes collapse in favor of the Lib Democrats, as was the case in both North Shropshire and the other Lib Democrat by-election wins in Chesham and Amersham a year ago, could well be crucial to the outcome.”
A Lib Dem activist told HuffPost UK: “Some think we’re likely to get over 50 per cent and the Tories less than 35 per cent.”
They also said the party’s ground play could prove crucial.
“I drove through the constituency and saw at least 10 Lib Dem posters and only one Tory and one Labour.”
Lib Dem leader Ed Davey is wary of complacency, however, insisting the race is “neck-and-neck”.
“This is a unique opportunity to end years of neglect and get a better deal for Devon by supporting the Liberal Democrats,” he said.
“We could be close to a historic victory, but now it’s a neck-and-neck race between the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives and every vote will count.”
The fact that by-elections are being held as a result of Tory scandals could also work against the prime minister.
Imran Ahmad Khan resigned as a Wakefield MP after being convicted of sexually assaulting a teenager, while Neil Parish resigned as a Tory MP in Tiverton and Honiton after admitting to watching porn in the House of Commons.
Despite winning a vote of confidence in his leadership less than two weeks ago, a double defeat in the by-election would also raise new questions about the prime minister’s future.
However, Johnson would miss any immediate impact from the results as he attends the Commonwealth Heads of Government Summit in Rwanda.
https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/boris-johnson-facing-double-defeat_uk_62b402ede4b0c77098b74b92 Boris Johnson Facing Double By-Election Defeat, Warns Poll Guru John Curtice