After all the agony, winning one out of three by-elections wasn’t such a bad night for the Conservatives as they held on to Uxbridge and South Ruislip, Boris Johnson‘s former seat, by the skin of their teeth.   

Tory candidate Steve Tuckwell won Uxbridge with a slim majority of 495 votes despite a 6.7 per cent swing to Labour. ULEZ was the top issue in the West London seat and Angela Rayner admitted today that Labour may have to rethink its strategy before the next election. She said ULEZ expansion came “at the cost of working families who have basically had enough”.The Liberal Democrats claimed an important victory in Somerton and Frome while Labour’s Kier Mather will become the youngest MP in parliament after his victory in the former-Tory safe seat of Selby and Ainsty. 

Lib Dem Sarah Dyke trumped Conservative Faye Purbrick to the seat of Somerton and Frome, winning 21,187 votes to Purbrick’s 10,179. Lib Dems leader Ed Davey was jubilant about his party’s return to the West Country saying: “I think we’re going to need a bigger tractor.” 

It was an historic 29 per cent swing to the Lib Dems in Somerton and Frome, but voter turnout was down around 30 per cent on the last election. The Conservative Party’s share of the vote was down a similar 29 per cent which some are claiming accounts for voter apathy, not necessarily swayed voters. 

Perhaps the biggest shock was in Selby and Ainsty where Labour overturned a 20,000-plus majority formerly held by Conservative MP Nigel Adams. Labour candidate Kier Mather, 25, will now be the baby of the house after winning the Yorkshire seat by 4,161 votes – an incredible 23.7 per cent swing. Mather said he “understood the enormity of what has just happened” and that the result shows that Labour can win in Tory strongholds. 

On a visit to Uxbridge, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the by-election results proved that next year’s general election is not a “done deal”. He was also confident that Tory victory in Uxbridge showed the deeper voting patterns across the country: “But Steve’s [Tuckwell] victory demonstrates that when confronted with the actual reality of the Labour Party, when there’s an actual choice on a matter of substance at stake, people vote Conservative.”

With each of the three main parties claiming a seat apiece, there is everything to play for in next year’s election and not even a small sign about who will form the next government. Even though the Tories are on the ropes, Labour still has to figure out how it delivers on its green policies without upsetting voters, and no one can rule out the rise of the Lib Dems.

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