By-elections: Starmer ‘on course’ to be next PM after victories in Wellingborough and Kingswood

The Labour Party has inflicted two by-election defeats on the government, overturning large majorities to win in Wellingborough and Kingswood.

Labour overturned majorities of 11,220 (Kingswood) and 18,540 (Wellingborough), in what amounts to the Conservative Party’s ninth and tenth by-election defeats of the current parliament.

Labour candidate Gen Kitchen secured Wellingborough with 45.8 per cent of the vote, while Damien Egan won Kingswood with 44.9 per cent of the vote.

Reacting to the results, polling guru professor Sir John Curtice declared that Labour leader Keir Starmer is “on course” to be the next prime minister.

The polling expert told the BBC: “For Labour, frankly, this is all pretty much good news. They will be slightly disappointed that they didn’t do better in Kingswood, they can’t complain much about what they achieved in Wellingborough.

“Sir Keir Starmer, one has to say at the moment, still looks to be on course to be our next prime minister.”

The Conservative Party have now clocked up 10 by-election defeats since the 2019 general election.

It means the government has suffered the most by-election defeats of any government since the 1960s, surpassing the eight defeats suffered by John Major as prime minister from 1992-1997.

Keir Starmer hailed the victories, saying: “These are fantastic results in Kingswood and Wellingborough that show people want change and are ready to put their faith in a changed Labour Party to deliver it.

“By winning in these Tory strongholds, we can confidently say that Labour is back in the service of working people and we will work tirelessly to deliver for them.

“The Tories have failed. Rishi’s recession proves that. That’s why we’ve seen so many former Conservative voters switching directly to this changed Labour Party.”

Speaking from the Kingswood election count, Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, whose seat borders the constituency, said: “Does it tell you anything about the general election? Almost certainly not.

“By-elections are an opportunity for people not to turn out, to protest, and at ensuing general elections they don’t give a consistent guide to what happens.”

“From the point of view of Kingswood, I think the Conservatives can be more pleased than they might have expected. I certainly thought this result would be worse.”

Richard Holden, the chairman of the Conservative Party, described the twin by-election losses as “disappointing”.

He told GB News: “A disappointing result for us this evening and overnight. Obviously I want to see us win every election possible and I know our candidates fought really hard during the campaign, but a disappointing result overnight.”

He added: “The results were disappointing but I suppose also quite different between the two by-elections as well.

“Kingswood was a very narrow victory for Labour. Certainly when they last held it back in the mid-2000s they were holding it by a 6,500 majority. So it is not fantastic results for us.”

What’s at stake in the Kingswood and Wellingborough by-elections?