The by-election was caused by the resignation of disgraced Tory MP Neil Parish following his admission that he watched pornography on his phone in the House of Commons. On paper the Tories, defending a majority of 24,239, should have been favourites to win the seat but the growing unpopularity of the government and Prime Minister Boris Johnson made the contest a much more open one. Although starting in 3rd place the Liberal Democrats campaigned strongly on local issues, including the poor state of Tiverton High School. The Liberal Democrats selected Richard Foord, a retired army major, with strong local connections. As the campaign progressed it became clear that Tory votes were either going to stay at home or switch to the Lib Dems. The Tories were also in trouble with farmers following the conclusion of post-Brexit trade deals with Australia and New Zealand. The result was a triumph for the Liberal Democrats, with the Tory 24,000 majority being replaced by a Liberal Democrat one of 6,144 on a swing of almost 30%. It was the largest ever majority overturned at a by-election and the sixth largest swing against a governing party since 1945.