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ROCK THE VOTE

Votes counted in key by-elections as Boris Johnson says calls for him to quit are ‘crazy’

VOTES from two key by-elections are being counted this morning - after Boris Johnson shrugged off calls for him to quit if he suffers defeat as "crazy".

The PM is braced to lose both the leafy southern seat of Tiverton & Honiton and the Red Wall patch of Wakefield.

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Ballot papers are put on a table to be counted by members of the staff for the Tiverton and Honiton by-electionCredit: Reuters
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Boris Johnson walks on stage to address a conference in Rwanda on Thursday

Voters went to the polls in both seats yesterday - while the PM parades the world stage thousands of miles away in Rwanda to attend a meeting of Commonwealth leaders.

Ballot counting is underway - and figures show a voter turnout of 52.3% in Tiverton & Honiton - and just 39.09% in Wakefield.

A double election blow risks plunging BoJo’s premiership into fresh turmoil and reigniting calls for him to quit.  

Asked directly if he would stay or go if he lost both seats he said: “Are you crazy?”

Throwing down the gauntlet to sniping Tory rebels trying to topple him, he pointed out that he stole the Labour stronghold of Hartlepool just a year ago. 

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He said: “Come on, it was only a year ago that we won the Hartlepool by-election, which everybody thought was - you know, we hadn’t won Hartlepool for - I can’t remember when the Tory party last won Hartlepool - a long time. I don’t think it ever had. 

“Governing parties generally do not win by-elections particularly not in mid term.

"You know, I’m very hopeful, but you know, there you go. That’s just the reality.”

He faces a fierce battle on two fronts as Labour look to recapture the Red Wall and the Lib Dems mount an assault on traditionally true-blue southern seats.

Sir Keir Starmer is hoping to overturn the Tories' 3,358 majority in Wakefield, a once Labour stronghold that flipped blue in 2019.

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His push to regain ground in Labour's historic northern strongholds at last month's local elections flopped.

The Lib Dems are looking to wipe out the mammoth 24,239 Conservative majority in Tiverton to score a huge upset.

The party wants to claim another Tory scalp after recently winning North Shropshire and Chesham and Amersham.

Both by-elections were triggered after their Tory MPs quit in disgrace.

Imran Ahmad Khan stepped down as Wakefield's MP after being convicted of sexually assaulting a child.

And Neil Parish resigned his Tiverton seat after being caught watching porn in the Commons chamber.

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Boris Johnson is in Rwanda for the Commonwealth meetingCredit: AFP
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Ballots are counted at the count centre in Crediton, DevonCredit: AFP
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Ballot boxes are delivered to the count centre in Crediton as counting gets underwayCredit: AFP
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Voters headed to the polls in TivertonCredit: Getty
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Two dogs outside at the polling station at Uffculme Village Hall, TivertonCredit: PA

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