Wellingborough by-election: Minister insists ‘all to play for’ in Peter Bone’s former seat

Peter Bone has lost his seat in a recall petition, it was revealed yesterday, leaving another by-election for Rishi Sunak to contend with.

North Northamptonshire Council confirmed last night that 13.2 per cent of constituents signed the recall petition, which means the constituency is now vacant.

A recall petition is triggered when an MP is suspended from the House of Commons for at least 10 days.

It comes after Peter Bone, the MP for Wellingborough since 2005, was found by parliament to have subjected a staff member to bullying and sexual misconduct.

Conservatives accused of ‘endless sleaze and scandal’ as Peter Bone faces suspension after bullying probe

Bone denies the allegations. 

Speaking this morning, cabinet minister Mel Stride has said the Conservatives will have to “fight for every single vote” in the upcoming Wellingborough by-election.

Asked if his party should be worried about losing the seat, Stride told Sky News: “He has a 19,000 majority but we still have to fight for every single vote, which is what we will do.

“The one thing I will say is that my colleagues on my side of the House feel this and experience it week in, week out.

“When you knock on doors and you talk to people about the next general election and the tough choice that people are going to have to make, what they don’t say is ‘I’ve got a burning passion to see Keir Starmer in Number 10’.

“One of the reasons they are concerned about Keir Starmer is on the spending side.”

He said that the by-election is “all to play for”, adding: “We will fight for Peter’s seat in Wellingborough.”

Stride went on to stress that Labour’s poll lead is “That lead they have I think is wafer thin. It’s not deep”.

Analysis of recent opinion polls by politics.co.uk shows Labour’s lead to be just under 19 per cent.

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Bone has been the MP for Wellingborough in Northamptonshire since 2005, and was re-elected with a majority of 18,540 at the last election in 2019.

It comes after the Conservatives have lost a series of by-elections in recent months, including in Selby and Ainsty, Mid Bedfordshire, and Somerton and Frome.

These constituencies, like Wellingborough, were previously won by Conservative candidates with five-figure majorities.

Sunak faces prospect of fresh by-election as MPs approve six week suspension for Peter Bone

Anneliese Dodds, chair of the Labour Party, said: “Wellingborough is ready for change”.

“The Conservative Party has presided over 13 years of failure, not least in the ‘professionalism, integrity and accountability at all levels’ that Rishi Sunak promised.

“Despite serious allegations made against him, Peter Bone has dragged his constituents through a lengthy recall petition rather than doing the right thing and offering his resignation.”

Responding to the recall petition result yesterday, former MP for Wellingborough Peter Bone said: “The result of the Wellingborough Parliamentary Recall Petition has been announced 10,505 people signed the petition which is equivalent to 13.2% of the electorate.

“68,897 people chose not to sign the petition which represents 86.8% of the electorate. 

“As the number of people signing the petition exceeds 10% of the electorate, there will be a parliamentary by-election early next year. This seems bizarre as 86.8% of the electorate did not want to remove me from office, nor for there to be a by-election, and yet we are still to have one. 

“I would like to thank all those people who have contacted me to offer their support from across the political spectrum. It has been most kind of so many people to have taken the time to contact me. 

“The recall petition came about as a result of an inquiry into alleged bullying and misconduct towards an ex-employee which was alleged to have occurred more than 10 years ago. These allegations are totally untrue and without foundation. 

“I will have more to say on these matters in the new year. May I wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and a peaceful New Year”.

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