RISHI Sunak has suffered a double defeat at the Wellingborough and Kingswood by-elections, with Keir Starmer hailing the results as a sign the public wants change.

The twin blows will compound the Prime Minister’s woes, coming the day after it was officially announced that the UK had entered a recession at the end of 2023, and mean the Conservatives have suffered more by-election defeats than in any single Parliament since the Second World War.

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

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

The National:

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.

Conservative deputy chair James Daly insisted that, despite the “disappointing” results, there was “no love” for Starmer and denied there was any evidence that voters had switched directly from the Tories to Labour.

The results also saw Reform UK secure more than 10% of the vote for the first time, potentially adding to pressure on the Prime Minister from the right of his party.

The new MP for Wellingborough has said the double by-election win for Labour shows people are “fed up” and want change.

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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.

Kitchen (below) was announced as the winner just over two hours after Labour triumphed at Kingswood and 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.

The National:

“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.

“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”.

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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 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.”

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 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.

Last month Sunak declined to say whether he would be campaigning for her.