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LONDON: British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s governing Conservatives lost two strategically important parliamentary seats on Friday but unexpectedly retained former leader Boris Johnson’s old constituency in a setback for the opposition Labour Party.

The Conservatives’ narrow victory in Uxbridge and South Ruislip gave Sunak some breathing space to try to narrow Labour’s large lead in the polls by tackling inflation and a cost-of-living crisis before a national vote expected next year.

Sunak said the win showed that upcoming election was not a “done deal”. In a cafe in the constituency, he told reporters: “The message I take away is that we have to double down, stick to our plan and deliver for people.”

But the scale of the challenge was highlighted by the loss of the once safe Conservative parliamentary seat of Selby and Ainsty in northern England, where Labour overturned the biggest Conservative majority at a by-election since World War Two.

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