When are the next by-elections? Another Tory resignation prompts 'Red Wall' crunch vote

When are the next by-elections? Another Tory resignation prompts 'Red Wall' crunch vote

Another by-election is on the cards for Rishi Sunak after disgraced Tory MP Scott Benton finally confirmed his resignation.

Having been caught up in a “toxic” lobbying scandal last year, Benton decided to quit his seat rather than risk being removed by voters.

His announcement comes almost a year after he was stripped of his whip following an investigation which caught him offering undercover reporters lobby benefits in exchange for money.

He was filmed at the time telling the journalists that he could leak a confidential policy paper to a bogus investment fund, an “extremely serious breach” of parliamentary rules.

Benton was eventually suspended for 35 days and, earlier this year, lost his appeal against the suspension. He chose to step down rather than await the results of a recall vote that was triggered following his suspension.

“It's with a heavy heart that I have written to the Chancellor this morning to tender my resignation as your MP,” Mr Benton told constituents this week.

“I'd like to thank the hundreds of residents who have sent supportive messages, cards and letters over the last few months, and who have urged me to continue and fight the next election.”

Sunak will now face the 12th by-election of his tenure as prime minister – of which the Conservatives have only won one.

The crunch Red Wall by-election for the Blackpool South seat will coincide with local elections set to take place this spring.

Where and when are the next by-elections in 2024?

In 2019, Benton narrowly won his Blackpool South seat by a majority of 3,690 votes in the general election.

A by-election has now been pencilled in for the vacant seat, meaning a new MP will assume the role later this year ahead of a general election.

Although no by-election date has been announced so far, it’s widely anticipated that the by-election will coincide with local elections due to take place on May 2.

Other local elections on May 2 include mayoral elections for local government and local authorities, as well as votes for the police and crime commissioner and Greater London authority.

Labour has already confirmed their candidate vying for the vacant seat will be Chris Webb, who said about Benton’s resignation: “Scott has brought headlines to Blackpool for all the wrong reasons. People here deserve so much better. Voters now have the opportunity to elect someone who is Blackpool born and bred and who will always put Blackpool South first.”

2023 by-elections

Sunak has gone through several by-elections since becoming prime minister in October 2022. There were seven by-elections in 2023, with all but two results going to Labour.

Labour won three by-elections from the Conservative Party last year in Tamworth, Mid Bedfordshire, and Selby and Ainsty, further bolstering hopes of success at the next general election.

One of Britain’s leading election experts, Professor of Politics at Strathclyde University Sir John Curtice, said the Tories could suffer a bigger defeat than Tony Blair’s 1997 landslide victory.

Labour won Mid Bedfordshire in October, overturning a post-war record 24,664 majority. In the same month, they enjoyed another huge overturn of 19,600 to win Tamworth.

The Staffordshire seat had been held by the now disgraced Chris Pincher, with Sarah Edwards the new MP. Labour’s Alistair Strathern won what was Nadine Dorries’ old seat in Mid Bedfordshire.

Leader Sir Keir Starmer claimed Labour was “redrawing the political map” by taking seats that had been comfortably Conservative before the general election.

However, Labour’s by-election-winning streak was challenged by the most recent by-election, which took place in February 2024. During the by-election, George Galloway took a previously safe Labour seat for The Workers Party of Britain (WPB), with a clear campaign message that called for an end to atrocities in Gaza.

The date for the next general election has not yet been confirmed, but it will need to be held in January 2025 at the very latest.

When do by-elections take place?

A by-election takes place when one of the following happens. An MP:

  • resigns or dies

  • is declared bankrupt

  • takes a seat in the House of Lords

  • is convicted of a serious criminal offence

The by-election timing is determined by law. The Representation of the People Act 1983 specifies that a by-election must be held within a specific timeframe after the seat becomes vacant. This timeframe is usually between three to six months, but it can vary depending on the circumstances.

Once the by-election is called, candidates from political parties and/or independent candidates have the opportunity to stand for election to fill the vacant seat. The candidate who receives the most votes in the by-election is elected as the new MP for that constituency.

Upon winning the by-election, the newly elected MP assumes their responsibilities in the House of Commons. They participate in parliamentary proceedings, vote on legislation, represent the interests of their constituents, and may join committees or take on other roles within Parliament.

It's important to note that the winning MP serves out the remainder of the term of the seat that was vacated — until the next general election is held. At the general election, which occurs every five years under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011, the seat will be contested again along with all other seats in the House of Commons.