Pain and Gain

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The United Kingdom’s Labour Party dealt a crushing blow to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Conservatives, winning two previously safe parliamentary seats in upsets analysts say foreshadow electoral pain in upcoming national elections, Reuters reported.

The double defeat last Thursday underscored a steep decrease in support for the governing Conservatives, who have won the last four national votes. It also suggests Labour is on course to win power for the first time since 2010 in a general election that must be held by January 2025.

While by-elections are often lost by the governing party, the scale of the defeat in two parliamentary seats the Conservatives have held for years piles pressure on Sunak, who took over almost a year ago after his party became embroiled in multiple scandals under previous leaders, the newswire wrote.

Labour won the constituency of Mid-Bedfordshire by overturning a majority of almost 25,000 – the biggest deficit the party has overcome in a by-election since 1945. A majority of almost 20,000 in the seat of Tamworth was also overturned by Labour.

The two seats became vacant after the resignations of two high-profile Conservative members of Parliament.

Tamworth, in particular, was problematic and echoed the problems the party is grappling with at the national level. It was vacated by former deputy chief whip Chris Pincher after he lost an appeal against a proposed suspension from the House of Commons over allegations that he drunkenly groped two men, CNBC reported. Pincher has denied the allegations.

The handling of Pincher’s case by former Prime Minister Boris Johnson triggered a wave of high-level government resignations that ultimately led to Johnson’s ousting from office last year.

The UK will hold a general election in the next 15 months. Currently, Sunak’s Conservatives trail Labour by at least 20 points in most national polls.

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