Boris Johnson 'full of optimism and buoyancy' ahead of by-election results

Boris Johnson said he was “full of optimism and buoyancy” ahead of the by-election results in West Yorkshire and Devon tonight.

People wall past polling sign at Lightwaves Leisure Centre in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, during the Wakefield by-election
People wall past polling sign at Lightwaves Leisure Centre in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, during the Wakefield by-election

Wakefield went to the polls to elect a new MP, with the contest framed as a key battle for both Labour and Mr Johnson’s Conservatives.

Speaking to broadcasters from Rwanda on Thursday, Mr Johnson said : “I’m going to be watching the results with interests but always full of optimism and buoyancy but most seasoned political observers know that by-elections in mid-term are never necessarily easy for any government.”

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Wakefield was one of the so-called Red Wall seats won by the Tories in the 2019 general election after being a Labour stronghold since the 1930s, but Labour is now hoping to take it back.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has said a victory in the northern constituency “could be the birthplace of the next Labour government”.

On the eve of polls opening, he said: “The public is fed up of Boris Johnson and a Conservative Party that promises big but never delivers.

“Labour’s candidate Simon Lightwood has run a positive campaign – with a plan to attract well-paid jobs and investment to Wakefield, put more police on the streets to tackle anti-social behaviour, and to fight for scrapping the unfair National Insurance rise.

“But a vote for anyone other than Labour will let Boris Johnson off the hook. The people of Wakefield have a chance to send a message to the Tories that enough is enough”.

If the Conservatives were to lose both by-elections, in Wakefield and Tiverton and Honiton tonight it would be only the seventh time a government has suffered such a double defeat since the Second World War.