The Lib Dems have overturned a large Tory majority to win the Chesham and Amersham by-election, claiming a seat that had been a Conservative stronghold for decades.
The result sees Lib Dem Sarah Green become the country’s newest MP, taking 56.7 per cent of the vote to secure a majority of 8,028 over the second-placed Tories.
The Lib Dem victory “sends a shockwave through British politics”, said the party’s leader Ed Davey, exposing the potential fragility of Boris Johnson’s party in the “Blue Wall” of southern England.
The contest was triggered by the death of former minister Dame Cheryl Gillan, who won in Chesham and Amersham with a majority of 16,233 in the last general election in 2019.
At the declaration, Ms Green said the result showed “this Conservative Party has taken people across the country for granted for far too long”.
In her acceptance speech Ms Green said: “Tonight the voice of Chesham and Amersham is unmistakable. Together we have said, ‘Enough is enough, we will be heard and this Government will listen’.
“This campaign has shown that no matter where you live, or how supposedly safe a constituency may appear to be, if you want a Liberal Democrat member of Parliament, you can have a Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament.”
She added: “We will continue the work of holding this Government to account for letting Covid rip through the care homes. We will speak up for the three million people excluded from financial support throughout the pandemic and we will challenge Boris Johnson to be far more ambitious in tackling climate change, supporting our frontline workers and backing our small businesses.”
The Tories sought to downplay the result, saying it was historically difficult for governing parties to win by-elections, but defeated candidate Peter Fleet acknowledged the Conservatives had to rebuild “trust and understanding” with voters.
Mr Fleet said: “Clearly this was a very disappointing result, not the result that I was expecting nor my team.”
He added: “It’s an absolutely extraordinary result which must take into account the fact that the Liberal Democrat party didn’t just throw the kitchen sink at this constituency, I think it was the microwave, the table, the oven, the dishwasher, the dog, the cat and anything else that was lying around as well.”
Additional reporting by agencies