John Curtice warns by-election results ‘extremely bad news’ for Rishi Sunak

The by-election results in Mid Bedfordshire and Tamworth are “extremely bad news” for Rishi Sunak’s Conservatives, according to a leading pollster.

Labour overturned huge Tory majorities to take the two seats in Thursday’s crunch ballots.

Professor Sir John Curtice said that unless the Conservatives can “fairly dramatically and fairly radically turn things around” then they are “staring defeat in the face” at next year’s general election.

Prof Curtice told the BBC: “The truth is two by-elections results, both of them extremely bad news for the Conservatives.

“Now in whatever criteria you use, they’re up there very clearly in the top 10 of worst Conservative performances against the Labour Party.

“And we’ve now had three by-elections with swings of 20 percent of more to the Labour Party. The last time we had that was the 1992-1997 Parliament.

“It is 12 months to go, this isn’t destiny, but it is a pointer and it is a pointer that, unless the Conservatives can fairly dramatically and fairly radically turn things around, then they are in truth staring defeat in the face in 12 months’ time.”

The polling expert said the Tories risk seeing voters switch to Labour on the left and Reform UK on the right.

Reform, which is led by Richard Tice, secured 1,487 votes in Mid Bedfordshire and 1,373 in Tamworth, both more than Labour’s majority over the Conservatives.

Prof Curtice said the Tories “may get caught in a pincer movement between some of their former Leave voters wandering off to Labour but others going off to Reform UK”.

The by-election results were announced within half an hour of each other in the early hours of this morning.

In Tamworth, Labour’s Sarah Edwards defeated Tory Andrew Cooper by a majority of 1,316.

Shortly afterwards Alistair Strathern took Mid Bedfordshire with 1,192 voters over his Tory rival Festus Akinbusoye in what was the largest majority overturned by Labour at a by-election since 1945.

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