Tiverton and Honiton voted to leave the EU by 58 to 42 percent, and the result will dampen suggestions that the party can return to winning ways by returning to the Brexit battlefield.
Mr Johnson was almost completely absent from the campaign, making only one quiet visit during which he met no voters, and he did not appear on local party leaflets.
Before the match, the prime minister had already downplayed expectations that the Tories would remain in the seat and dismissed questions that he should resign as “crazy”.
“Governing parties generally don’t win midterm elections, especially in the medium term. I have a lot of hopes, but you know, there you go. That’s just the reality,” he said on Thursday.
Ms Hurford said ahead of the vote that the fallout from the party gate and the manner in which Mr Parish stepped down had made the campaign to keep the seat an uphill battle.
Wakefield win hints at holes in Tory ‘Red Wall’
In Wakefield, Labor’s Simon Lightwood won a whopping 13,166 votes to defeat Conservative candidate Nadeem Ahmed, who won 8,421 votes.
Mr Lightwood’s win points to potential Tory vulnerability in the 45 ‘Red Wall’ constituencies that turned blue for the first time in a generation in 2019.
Labor will hope the victory is a sign that they can regain the loyalty of the Northern and working class Britons who left the party in the last general election.
The win is also likely to lead to further questions about whether Boris Johnson will ever be able to regain public confidence after the partygate scandal.