BORIS Johnson has vowed to “keep going” after his authority was dealt a series of blows by a double by-election defeat which triggered the resignation of a Cabinet minister.

The Prime Minister acknowledged on Friday that losing the former Tory stronghold of Tiverton and Honiton to the LibDems as well as surrendering Wakefield to Labour was “tough”, but he insisted he was pushing on, and vowed to “listen” to voters.

In Tiverton and Honiton the Liberal Democrats overturned a 24,000 Tory majority to win, while Labour reclaimed Wakefield with a majority of more than 4000.

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Conservative Party co-chairman Oliver Dowden quit, saying he and Tory supporters are “distressed and disappointed by recent events”, telling Johnson that “someone must take responsibility”.

Johnson, speaking to broadcasters 4000 miles away in Rwanda, where he is at a Commonwealth summit, thanked the former culture minister for his “excellent” service in the role.

The Prime Minister said he would take responsibility, but stressed the cost-of-living crisis was the most important thing for voters, saying it is “true that in mid-term governments post-war lose by-elections”.

“It’s absolutely true we’ve had some tough by-election results, they’ve been, I think, a reflection of a lot of things, but we’ve got to recognise voters are going through a tough time at the moment,” he said at a conference centre in Kigali.

“I think as a Government I’ve got to listen to what people are saying – in particular to the difficulties people are facing over the cost of living, which I think for most people is the number one issue.

“We’re now facing pressures on the cost of living, we’re seeing spikes in fuel prices, energy costs, food costs – that’s hitting people.

“We’ve got to recognise there is more we’ve got to do and we certainly will, we will keep going addressing the concerns of people until we get through this patch.”

In Tiverton & Honiton, the LibDems needed a swing of at least 22.8 percentage points to win – in other words, 23 in every 100 people in the constituency who voted Conservative at the 2019 General Election needed to switch directly to the LibDems.

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In the event they managed a swing of 29.9 points: large enough to rank as the sixth biggest swing against a government since 1945 in a by-election that saw a change in both party and MP.

The biggest swing of this kind took place in July 1993 at the Christchurch by-election, which was won by the LibDems on a 35.4 point swing from the Conservatives.

Meanwhile Labour needed a much smaller swing of just 3.8 percentage points to take Wakefield from the Conservatives.

They won the seat on a swing of 12.7 points – coincidentally, exactly the same size swing Labour achieved the last time it won a seat from the Tories at a by-election, in Corby in 2012.