The Liberal Democrats this pulled of a startling resurgence in the rural constituency of Witney, coming from fourth place to second place. Cutting the Tory party’s vote share from 60% in 2015 to 45%. This represented a 19.3% swing from the government to the Liberal Democrats.
The by-election came as a result of former Prime Minister David Cameron resigning his seat, citing an unwillingness to be a ‘distraction’ for the new, Theresa May-led government. And with the Conservatives appointing a Brexit supporter as the candidate for Witney, a remain-voting constituency, the Liberal Democrats saw a great opportunity to make progress.
The candidate, local businesswoman Liz Leffman, proved popular with local residents and her message of a stronger NHS and an outward-looking Britain with a strong relationship with the EU rang true with many voters. The party poured activists into the seat, with some weekends seeing as many as 1,000 volunteers through the local party HQ doors.
If the same swing to the Liberal Democrats was replicated across the country in a General Election the Lib Dems would take 26 seats off the Government, totally wiping out their majority. This was the tenth safest Tory seat in the country with a massive 25,000 majority, yet the Conservatives were seriously rattled.