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Don't forget your core voters, Tory MPs warn Boris Johnson after Lib Dems smash Conservatives

The Conservatives suffered a historic by-election defeat yesterday after losing a leafy Buckinghamshire seat for the first time.

Boris Johnson was urged not to forget his core voters in the Home Counties following the shock result in Chesham and Amersham.

The Prime Minister admitted that the result was ‘disappointing’ after the Liberal Democrats managed to overturn a 16,000 Conservative majority.

Sarah Green romped home with a majority of more than 8,000 even though the seat has only ever had Tory MPs since it was created in 1974.

Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey said his party’s victory would ‘send a shockwave through British politics’ and claimed the result demonstrated that the ‘Blue Wall’ of Tory southern seats could be vulnerable.

The Conservatives suffered a historic by-election defeat yesterday after losing a leafy Buckinghamshire seat for the first time

Tory MPs have warned the PM that in his desire to retain Red Wall seats in the North, he must not forget the party’s traditional voters in the South.

Former leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said many in the South were angry about Mr Johnson’s planning reforms, which they fear will allow developers to build the wrong buildings in the wrong places.

‘That is a theme that is running through a lot of constituencies right now – particularly in the South and in London,’ he said. ‘I urge the Government to think carefully about the next stage of this. We need to hold these seats as much as we need to win seats elsewhere.

‘If we don’t pause to listen to what the concerns are before proceeding, then we will run the risk of having this repeated.’

Mr Johnson thanked defeated Tory candidate Peter Fleet and said there were ‘particular circumstances’ at play after his party lost one of its safest seats in England.

Many voters in Chesham and Amersham were angry at the HS2 project, which runs through the constituency.

Many voters in Chesham and Amersham were angry at the HS2 project, which runs through the constituency. Pictured: Daily Mail's Robert Hardman at an HS2 development site on the edge of Great Missenden

Asked if he was neglecting voters in the South in favour of those in the North, the PM told reporters: ‘It was certainly a disappointing result.

‘There were particular circumstances there and we are getting on with delivering our agenda for the whole country, that’s what one-nation Conservatism is all about. We believe in uniting and levelling up within regions and across the country.’

The by-election was triggered by the death of former Cabinet minister Dame Cheryl Gillan, who took the seat with a majority of 16,233 in the 2019 general election – some 55 per cent of the vote.

In a stunning result, Miss Green took 56.7 per cent of the vote to secure a majority of 8,028 over the second-placed Tories.

Sir Ed told BBC Breakfast yesterday: ‘I think this will send a shockwave through British politics. Liberal Democrats have had good wins in the past, but this is our best-ever by-election victory, and if it was repeated across the South, literally dozens of Conservative seats would fall to the Liberal Democrats.

‘People talked about the Red Wall in the North, but have forgotten about the Blue Wall in the South and that’s going to come tumbling down if this result is mimicked across this country.’

The Green Party came third in the by-election with 1,480 votes, with Labour trailing in fourth with just 622 votes, losing the party’s deposit in the process.

Mr Johnson thanked defeated Tory candidate Peter Fleet and said there were ‘particular circumstances’ at play after his party lost one of its safest seats in England

Polling expert Sir John Curtice told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that he made it the ‘worst Labour performance in any by-election’ after the party took just 1.6 per cent of the vote.

It is a boost for the Lib Dems after they suffered a poor result in the 2019 general election. In her acceptance speech, Miss 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.’

The country’s newest MP and Sir Ed celebrated the triumph at a victory rally in the constituency yesterday, where the pair stood in front of a blue wall made of plastic bricks, which the Lib Dem leader then smashed with an orange hammer.

Major issues in the campaign included the HS2 rail line, which cuts through the constituency, and proposed planning reforms, which have sparked fears about building in the countryside around the seat in the Chilterns.

Defeated Conservative candidate Mr Fleet said: ‘Clearly this was a very disappointing result, not the result that I was expecting, nor my team.’

Sarah Green romped home with a majority of more than 8,000 even though the seat has only ever had Tory MPs since it was created in 1974

And Tory chairman Amanda Milling said the ‘work starts now to show how it’s Conservatives that can deliver on the people’s priorities and regain their support’ and noted the concerns over ‘planning and HS2 were loud and clear’.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph she said: ‘I am in no doubt that last night’s result is a warning shot and we are listening. Over the coming weeks and months, we will take stock of what happened in Chesham and Amersham and look at how we can regain the trust of voters there.

She added: ‘The Lib Dems won Amersham town council last month and threw the kitchen sink at this by-election.

‘I know there will be fears that we aren’t speaking to people in the South, but in those same elections we won councils across the South, including Cornwall, Southampton, Maidstone and Harlow.’

A Conservative source said: ‘By-elections are always difficult for the governing party, particularly 11 years into government, but there is no getting away from the fact this is a very disappointing result.’

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