Tiverton and Honiton: “It’s time for Boris Johnson to go” – Foord speech in full

In a calm, reasoned and powerful acceptance speech, newly elected Lib Dem MP for Tiverton and Honiton has a message for Boris Johnson:

Tonight, the people of Tiverton & Honiton have spoken for Britain. They’ve sent a loud and clear message: It’s time for Boris Johnson to go. And go now.

Ours is a great country and there’s no greater part of it than Devon. But every day Boris Johnson clings to office, he brings further shame, chaos and neglect…

I also have a simple message for those Conservative MPs propping up this failing Prime Minister: The Liberal Democrats are coming.

Foord said the cost of living crisis is hitting hard, including in Devon.

He also paid tribute to Ed Davey for his leadership: “You believed from the start that this result was possible. You rallied our troops and led from the front.” The contrast with Boris Johnson who shied away from meeting voters in Tiverton and Honiton was left unstated.

Listen to the speech.

Watch the speech.

Richard Foord’s acceptance speech in full:

I’d like to thank the Returning Officer, her staff and my fellow candidates for a well-run election and count.

To my wife Kate, and our three wonderful children – thank you. I couldn’t have done this without your love.

I’d like to thank my election agent Simon Drage, my incredible campaign team, the local party members and Liberal Democrat supporters here in Tiverton & Honiton, and the thousands of Liberal Democrat campaigners from across the country who came to volunteer with me here in Devon.

Your extraordinary efforts have delivered a historic result and sent a shockwave through British politics

Tonight, the people of Tiverton & Honiton have spoken for Britain. They’ve sent a loud and clear message: It’s time for Boris Johnson to go. And go now.

Ours is a great country and there’s no greater part of it than Devon. But every day Boris Johnson clings to office, he brings further shame, chaos and neglect.

I’ve heard about the pain people are suffering as the cost of living crisis starts to bite.

Yet when Boris Johnson could be fighting for farmers, for our NHS and for rural services, he’ll be fighting once again to save his own skin.

I also have a simple message for those Conservative MPs propping up this failing Prime Minister:

The Liberal Democrats are coming.

If you don’t take action to restore decency, respect and British values to Downing Street, you too will face election defeats like the one we have seen here tonight.

It is time to do what’s right for our country. You know in your heart that your leader is not the person to lead this great nation into the future.

Across the country, the Liberal Democrats are taking on the Conservatives and winning.

Thousands of lifelong Conservative voters, appalled by Boris Johnson’s lies and fed up with being taken for granted.

Thousands of Labour voters, choosing to lend their votes to the candidate with the best chance of beating the Conservatives.

Thousands of people who believe our politics should be about building a better life for everyone, not a daily parade of self-serving chaos.

All of them, voting for the Liberal Democrats.

These are difficult times for our country.

The cost of living crisis – as we know here in Devon – is hitting hard: people are being forced to choose between filling up their car or putting food on the table.

Our local NHS is teetering on the brink.

Our rural economy is in a precarious state with people’s livelihoods at risk.

Our country is crying out for leadership.

I served as an officer in the British Army for 10 years, Mr Johnson.

I can tell you that leadership means acting with decency and integrity. It means keeping your word. It means setting an example and putting other people’s needs before your own.

I served alongside friends who personified these values and laid down their lives in service of their country.

And yet your behaviour Mr Johnson, makes a mockery of leadership. By any measure, you are unfit to lead.

The people of Tiverton & Honiton have told you tonight that enough is enough. They demand a change.

The only decent course of action left open to you is to heed their call and resign.

I want to pay tribute to Ed Davey.

Ed, thanks to you the Liberal Democrats are taking on Boris Johnson across the blue wall and winning. From Chesham & Amersham to North Shropshire to here in Tiverton & Honiton.

You believed from the start that this result was possible. You rallied our troops and led from the front.

Whether it is on the streets of Seaton or Bampton, Honiton or Branscombe, Axminster or Tiverton, you have led the charge for change.

But finally, and most importantly of all, thank you to the people of Tiverton & Honiton, and everyone in our part of Devon.

For your support throughout this campaign.

For putting your faith in me to be your champion in Parliament.

But finally, and most importantly of all, thank you to the people of Tiverton & Honiton, and everyone in our part of Devon.

For your support throughout this campaign.

For putting your faith in me to be your champion in Parliament.

As your local MP, I promise I will work tirelessly for you. I will always put local people and our communities first.

Whether you supported me or supported someone else, I want to let you know, I’m here to represent you and to stand up for everyone in Tiverton & Honiton.

I will never take you for granted.

Thank you.

* Andy Boddington is a Lib Dem councillor in Shropshire. He blogs at andybodders.co.uk.

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  • George Thomas 24th Jun '22 - 9:03am

    Ed Davey used the aftermath of the no confidence vote Boris recently survived to outline that Conservative MP’s were choosing to protect Boris despite everything and therefore they were responsible for what’s happening.

    I somewhat understand not wanting to call voters out because you’re meant to be an MP for everyone in your constituent and the next general election isn’t so far away – 38.5% of voters will clearly never vote anything but Tory – but I still think more needs to be done to show so many Tories are either i) choosing a bad Tory party over the needs of the UK or ii) really do support what’s going on.

    If you make this all about Boris then Tories will get rid and that 38.5% who voted Tory this time will only increase at a general election. It feels as if Davey understands that and changed tact after most recent no-confidence vote but other MP’s are yet to catch up… maybe I’m being too critical when this speech was made after a night of high emotions?

  • George Thomas 24th Jun '22 - 9:22am

    RE: my message above,

    According to pollsters on twitter, specifically J.L. Partners, the four main issues “soft-voters” are bringing up as reason not to vote Tory are Boris related (x3) and taxes (x1). It’s only 5th and 6th in the list (NHS and cost of living crisis) when things start to become about wider Tory party.

    I don’t know if that supports my view that more should be done to point fingers at Tory party as a whole or that voters aren’t going that way and therefore wrong to force them to make a more lasting decision about whether to support Tories.

  • Andy Boddington 24th Jun '22 - 10:41am

    @George Thomas The speech was right for the night. Johnson’s credibility had been challenged by the electorate not just once, but twice. The focus needed to be on Johnson’s failure to lead. It was proven leader speaking to a man who has shown he cannot lead.

  • @ George Thomas, “38.5% of voters will clearly never vote anything but Tory”.

    If you’re referring to a future UK General Election, George, then a good dose of psephological salts might just sort you out. The Tories polled 30.7% in 1997, 31.7% in 2001 and 32.4% in 2005.

  • Tristan Ward 24th Jun '22 - 11:23am

    @ George Thomas.

    Totally agree with you.

    Conservative members and MPs voted by about 2 to 1 to make Johnson our Prime Minister when they knew (or ought to have know:

    that he is a liar (sacked twice);
    that he has no principles;
    that he thinks the rules don’t apply to him (Eton school report)
    that he is sexually incontinent (how many children); and
    he couldn’t run a whelk stall (Mayor of London).

    All this just to “Get Brexit Done”

  • George Thomas 24th Jun '22 - 2:02pm

    @Andy Boddington, “The speech was right for the night.”

    A few hours later, I’ve come to the same conclusion on basis that i) it was right for the night for reasons you’ve said and ii) wrong to expect the newest MP to do things more established MP’s aren’t, in my opinion, yet doing enough of.

  • Paul Barker 24th Jun '22 - 2:11pm

    The thing that has struck me about coverage of last night is how everyone is running down the Solid Labour win in Wakefield – “Underwhelming/ not good enough” seems to be the line.
    There are silly comparisons with Blairs leads in the mid 1990s. What they miss is that Labour then was a Decade on from Militant”, Labour have had two & a half Years since Corbyn & recovery takes time. We know how long Voters can take to forgive, we should understand.

  • Roger Billins 24th Jun '22 - 4:22pm

    Congratulations to our new M.P and to the fantastic team that secured the win. I lived in Orpington and was 8 when Eric Lubbock won the Orpington by election. The Liberal Club was next to the station and there was a huge sign greeting commuters “You are entering Liberal country “. Sadly he lost in 1970. Since then I have counted 35 Lib/Alliance / Lib Dem by election wins but equally sadly, and ignoring the three wins this parliament, we only hold Richmond Park and, of the rest, are only competitive in about 8. We must do more to hold our gains but I am sure our establishment are alive to that ?

  • Tristan Ward 24th Jun '22 - 6:04pm

    @Paul Barker

    “everyone is running down the Solid Labour win in Wakefield”

    Seems about right to me:

    12.75 % compared to our 30% swing

    39% turnout (below average) compared with our 52% (above average)

    Of course the Lib Dem bye election machine is formidable, but apparently an independent candidate took 7.6 % of the vote in Wakefield. Apparently he is an ex-Conservative who left the Tories last year for some reason – I have heard Partygate mentioned. These voters weren’t willing to go Labour (obviously) – what would have happened to them if the Independent hadn’t stood?

  • Mick Taylor 24th Jun '22 - 8:47pm

    @Roger Billins. I was 12 when the Liberals won Orpington and helped with the campaign. Eric held the seat for 8 years and then lost it in the disastrous election of 1970 which saw the Liberals lose far too many seats.
    Our party has a dismal record of holding by-election gains. I suspect that this is because our wins were often protest votes against unpopular governments. We have not yet found the policies, the formula or the resources to organise holding by-election seats without the amazing help that comes with a winning by-election campaign. The 3 amazing gains of the past year are all in previously Tory seats. I hope that the party is already building up resources to convince those who changed and voted for us in the by-elections to continue to do so into the future.
    Thanks to everyone who travelled down to Devon. At the next GE that level of help simply won’t be available in even the 14 seats we now hold. If we are to grow and gain a sizeable number of seats next time round we have to create winning teams in all the seats we hold as well as those we want to gain. My experience as an active party member for almost 60 years is that we have never done this, but if we do not do it now – and there is some evidence that the Board now see this as a priority – then we won’t make those gains.

  • Mick Taylor 24th Jun '22 - 8:58pm

    I reject emphatically the idea that Corbyn was as toxic for Labour as militant. He actually did quite well in 2017 and only started doing badly when the entire Tory press started smearing him as a dreadful marxist, a process that far too many of our party joined in with. Corbyn had and has many faults, but mainly not the ones that have been used to heap opprobrium on him.
    Whilst Johnson is an odious man, he is only symptomatic of the current majority in the Tory Party who want to create a UK that we would find difficult to live in. So whilst we should be calling for Johnson to go, we must aim our fire at the Tory Party and point out that the whole party is toxic and not just the leader.

  • Chris Moore 24th Jun '22 - 9:24pm

    Mick, our record at holding by-elections in the current political generation, i.e. last 25 years, has been distorted by the wipe out in 2015, at which point we still held quite a number of historical wins.

  • John Bicknell 25th Jun '22 - 7:35am

    I’ve noticed a few comments appearing, along the lines of ‘the worst mistake the LDs made at the 2019GE was attacking Jeremy Corbyn.’ Apparently, it now seems to be LD policy to support Labour, whoever their leader is, or whatever their policies. I disagree and I refute the suggestion that it was just ‘the Tory press’ that undermined him. It was his own anti-semitism, and failure to eradicate it from his party, that destroyed his credibility amongst young voters, plus a growing realisation by the public that he simply wasn’t up to the job. IMHO John McDonnell was always a smarter and more credible spokesperson for left-wing socialism.

  • Alex Macfie 25th Jun '22 - 9:59am

    @Mick Taylor: Our record at holding onto by-election gains at the followin GE is rather better than often portrayed, depending a lot on whether the party we won from is still unpopular as well as local factors. Thus in 1992GE we lost all three seats we’d won in by-elections in the previous Parliament, while in 1997 we held onto 2 of the 3 (we also did something that our predecessor parties had never done before, which was to win back seats we had previously won at by-elections and subsequently lost). Nearly half our MPs elected in 1987GE owed their continuing presence in the HoC to by-election wins, while prior to 1997 Labour had never held onto a seat gained at a by-election.

  • Jason Connor 25th Jun '22 - 11:58am

    I agree John Bicknell. I remember hearing a comment from a Labour official at the time ‘Hitler should’ve finished the job’ and was appalled there was no condemnation of the anti-Semitism by Jeremy Corbyn back then, no robust action was taken. I live in an Inner London Labour borough, virtually a one party state now. It was interesting that the very pro EU local labour party were critical of Mr Corbyn as he showed no enthusiasm for remaining in the EU during referendum campaign, this also undermined him within his own party. That’s despite the vast majority of his party supporting remain locally and nationally. In the local elections in 2018 the Lib Dems came a good second in my ward but they now get very little support, no leaflet went out in May. Anyway congratulations to Mr Foord but I would also like to see more support from the party for Social Lib Dem candidates standing in Labour facing areas rather than letting the Greens emerge as the main challengers. There needs to be a strategy to support candidates in areas like Wakefield etc.

  • Tristan Ward 24th Jun ’22 – 6:04pm…@Paul Barker..“everyone is running down the Solid Labour win in Wakefield”…
    Seems about right to me:12.75 % compared to our 30% swing..39% turnout (below average) compared with our 52% (above average)

    What seems to have been forgotten in all the euphoria is that, until the coalition disaster there was a major LibDem presence in T&H (in fact it could have been called a Tory marginal)

    As for the 52% turnout being above average??? The average turnout in T&H has always been above 70%..

  • Martin Gray 25th Jun '22 - 8:53pm

    @Jason Connor….
    Historically Corbyn & McDonnell were much more closely aligned to the traditional lefts position on the EU . They understood that there was never any deep affection for the EU amongst millions of British people – not then & not now …For many communities they couldn’t see & certainly couldn’t feel the benefits of EU membership .. Being in the EU didn’t save one job or one factory – only to be replaced by some faceless warehouses on the edge of town paying the mw on agency zhc , predominantly staffed by Eastern European labour ..That is the reality for many post industrial towns.
    Corbyn was right on Iraq , right on Afghanistan & one of a handful of MPs who opposed the Libyan intervention .. Something the establishment will never forgive ..

  • Paul Barker 24th Jun ’22 – 2:11pm:
    The thing that has struck me about coverage of last night is how everyone is running down the Solid Labour win in Wakefield – “Underwhelming/ not good enough” seems to be the line.

    He won with 18.9% of the electorate; the second lowest on record.

  • Far too many, “Nah, nah, nah’, we did better than you did”, comments..

    Please, just grow up and concentrate on removing this government!

  • Jason Connor 27th Jun '22 - 4:24pm

    Actually that’s not strictly true. Many areas benefitted from infrastructure projects funded by ESF monies supporting jobs and the local economy. The minimum wage is set by the government not the EU and many people felt left behind because of under-investment, decisions taken by successive governments. Many vocational courses were also supported by EU monies and young people I speak to in colleges say there is far less choice now. So was Charles Kennedy right on Iraq and widely condemned when he spoke out against it at the time and never given any credit for his consistent opposition. When I attended a Unite meeting a couple of years ago after the EU referendum result to leave, you might be interested to know every single member backed Corbyn, apart from myself of course as a non Labour member and council tenant, I spoke out against him. But they all supported the UK’s membership of the EU in contradiction of his view on this issue and the union campaigned for remain. And even the inner London borough where I live overwhelmingly voted remain and it has some of the most deprived wards in the UK.

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