Rishi Sunak has suffered a double blow after losing both the Kingswood and Wellingborough by-elections.

Massive swings saw Labour overturned majorities of 11,220 and 18,540, delivering the Government’s ninth and tenth by-election defeats of the current Parliament and secure its second largest swing from the Conservatives ever.

Gen Kitchen secured Wellingborough with 45.8% of the vote, while Damien Egan won Kingswood with 44.9% of the vote.

The results provided Labour with a boost after a U-turn on the party’s pledge to spend £28 billion on green projects and an antisemitism row that forced it to drop its candidate for another by-election in Rochdale in two weeks’ time.

The Herald: Labour’s Damien Egan said the Conservatives had ‘sucked the hope out of our country’ (Ben Birchall/PA)Labour’s Damien Egan said the Conservatives had ‘sucked the hope out of our country’ (Ben Birchall/PA) (Image: PA)

The twin defeat piles more pressure on the Prime Minister following the news that the UK entered a recession at the end of 2023, while Reform UK scored its best by-election results after targeting disgruntled voters on the right, securing more than 10% of the vote for the first time in a by-election.

Reform deputy leader Ben Habib won 13% of the vote in Wellingborough, while Rupert Lowe won 10% in Kingswood.

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The results also mean the Government has now suffered the most by-election defeats of any government since the 1960s, surpassing the eight defeats suffered by John Major in the run-up to Tony Blair’s 1997 landslide victory.

Labour leader Sir 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.

READ MORE: Part Two: Who are the Scottish Labour MP hopefuls?

“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.

“Those who gave us their trust in Kingswood and Wellingborough, and those considering doing so, can be safe in the knowledge that we will spend every day working to get Britain’s future back.”

The Herald: Labour Party candidate Gen Kitchen won a majority of more than 6,000, overturning a Conservative majority of more than 18,000 (Joe Giddens/PA)Labour Party candidate Gen Kitchen won a majority of more than 6,000, overturning a Conservative majority of more than 18,000 (Joe Giddens/PA) (Image: PA)

In Wellingborough, the result announced at 4am showed Gen Kitchen, saw a Tory majority of more than 18,000 turn into a Labour majority of 6,436.

The swing of 28.5% is the largest from the Conservatives to Labour since the 1994 Dudley West by-election, where a 29.1% swing presaged Tony Blair’s landslide victory three years later.

Ms Kitchen said: “The people of Wellingborough have spoken for Britain. This is a stunning victory for the Labour Party and must send a message from Northamptonshire to Downing Street.”

In Kingswood, where the result was announced shortly before 2am, Labour’s Damien Egan defeated Conservative Sam Bromiley, securing 11,176 votes and a majority of 2,501.

In his victory speech, Mr Egan thanked the activists that helped him win and the people of Kingswood for putting their trust in him.

He said: “It’s a trust that I promise to repay, to show you that politics can be different and it can make difference.

“In Kingswood, as across the country, 14 years of Conservative government have sucked the hope out of our country with a feeling that no matter how hard you work, you just can’t move forward.

“And with Rishi’s recession we’re left again paying more and getting less. It doesn’t have to be this way, you know it, I know it, we all know it.

“When the Prime Minister finally finds the courage to give the people a say, we’re going to need each and every one of you again to come out and vote and make sure your voices are heard.”

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Defeated Conservative candidate Sam Bromiley left the count as soon as Mr Egan had finished speaking, declining to comment to reporters.

The defeats mean the Conservatives have suffered more by-election losses in this Parliament than any previous government since the 1960s, surpassing the eight defeats experienced by John Major between 1992 and 1997.

But senior Conservative MP Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg sought to play down the importance of the results for predicting what will happen at the general election.

He said: “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.”

Sir Jacob acknowledged the Tories would need to “learn” from the results, saying: “Conservative Party votes are most likely to come from people who stay at home or who voted Reform.

“How do we win them back to the Tory family? People who share many views and values with us.

“By delivering things they believe in and that means lower taxation, taking more of the advantages of Brexit, with more of the removal of EU retained law, it means doing less on the green issue that is making people cold and poor, and helping revitalise our economy.”

The Herald: Labour’s Damien Egan embraces his husband after winning the Kingswood by-election, the first of Labour’s two by-election victories declared early on FridayLabour’s Damien Egan embraces his husband after winning the Kingswood by-election, the first of Labour’s two by-election victories declared early on Friday (Image: PA)

In her victory speech, Gen Kitchen said she was “ecstatic” at the result, and the double by-election win for Labour shows people are “fed up” and want change.

The candidate said she cut short her honeymoon to begin campaigning when she was told former Conservative MP Peter Bone had been suspended from the Commons.

She was announced as the winner just over two hours after Labour also triumphed at Kingswood and she achieved the second largest swing from Tory to Labour at a by-election since the Second World War.

“I hope Damien (Egan, new Labour MP for Kingswood) is as ecstatic as I am, and I’m sure the Labour leadership will be as well,” she said.

Labour win Wellingborough by-electionLabour’s Gen Kitchen celebrates with her family after winning the Wellingborough by-election (Joe Giddens/PA Wire)

“This shows that people are fed up, they want change, they want competency, they want pragmatism and they want politicians to under-promise and over-deliver, which is what I am hoping to do.

“It shows how much hard work we put in and the real positive message we were putting out. There is a real appetite for a fresh start and change.”

When asked whether she could replicate her win at the next general election, she said: “There’s a lot of try before you buy, a lot of people lending their votes.

“I have to make sure they buy again, so I will be out door-knocking, campaigning and delivering on our pledges.

Labour win Wellingborough by-electionReform UK candidate Ben Habib on the party bus during the by-election campaign (Joe Giddens/PA Wire)

“I will be working incredibly hard to secure their votes whenever the general election comes and I will be working really hard on our case work that we have picked up on at the doors.

“We have had so many people say they haven’t had a politician knock on their doors in the last 20 years. It means we have to make sure we deliver on the promises we have made.”

The Reform party finished third with 13% of the vote, its best performance at a by-election, and candidate Ben Habib hailed it as “remarkable”.

Asked why people voted for him, he said: “People are absolutely fed up with the manner in which this country is being governed.”

On whether Reform is letting Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer into Number 10, he said: “The only reason Labour win, if Labour win, is because the Tory party is utterly useless.

“The Conservative Party is the problem and they need to go.”

Labour win Wellingborough by-electionConservative Party candidate Helen Harrison listens as Labour’s Gen Kitchen give her victory speech (Joe Giddens/PA Wire)

The Conservative candidate, Helen Harrison, left quickly after the results were declared without commenting as the party’s vote plummeted from 32,277 at the last general election to just 7,408.

Her selection as candidate was controversial as she is the partner of Mr Bone, who received a six-week suspension from the Commons when an inquiry found he had subjected a staff member to bullying and sexual misconduct.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak last month declined to say whether he would be campaigning for her.