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North Northamptonshire Council has confirmed that 13.2% of Wellingborough’s electorate has supported a recall petition to oust MP Peter Bone, reaching the 10% threshold required for a by-election.

The petition was prompted by Bone’s six-week suspension from the House of Commons due to findings of bullying and sexual misconduct toward a staff member. Bone, now sitting as an independent, lost the Conservative whip following the ruling.

Wellingborough, held by the Tories since 2005, faces a potentially challenging by-election in the new year. Labour sees an opportunity for a fresh start, with party chair Anneliese Dodds criticizing the Conservatives for a lack of professionalism and integrity. Gen Kitchen, Labour’s parliamentary candidate, aims to be the change constituents desire.

While the Tories secured an 18,540 majority in the 2019 general election, the current political climate raises concerns about the party’s hold on Wellingborough. The by-election, prompted by the recall petition, will serve as an early indicator of the Tories’ standing with the public ahead of a potential 2024 general election.

The recall process garnered 10,505 votes in favor of Bone’s removal, surpassing the threshold of 7,904 needed for a by-election. However, Bone, denying the allegations, deems the by-election “bizarre” as the majority did not support his removal.

The by-election date is yet to be set, but campaigning is expected to begin well in advance. The allegations against Bone, deemed “totally untrue and without foundation” by him, will likely remain a focal point in the political discourse leading up to the by-election.

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