Imran Ahmad Khan has decided to resign as Member of Parliament, meaning that Boris Johnson now faces an electoral test in a bona fide Red Wall constituency.

According to his statement, this is because the drawn-out nature of legal proceedings mean that he won’t be able to effectively advocate for his constituents for months yet, having already left Wakefield “without visible parliamentary representation for a year.” He adds:

“Even in the best case scenario, anticipated legal proceedings could last many more months. I have therefore regrettably come to the conclusion that it is intolerable for constituents to go years without an MP who can amplify their voices in parliament.”

This may be the case; other media reports suggest he did intend to stick it out and fight his appeal as an MP before the strong backlash against Crispin Blunt’s supportive comments earlier this week.

Either way, the Prime Minister now has a very important fight on his hands. Wakefield was one of the more spectacular prizes won in 2019, having previously been held by Labour since 1931. Whoever is selected to fight it will be defending a majority of just 3,358.

The result will give Tory MPs hard, real-world evidence about the impact of the Paterson fiasco and Partygate on the Prime Minister’s and the Party’s standing with the voters in the Red Wall. They have been reluctant to strike so far, but a Labour win will be harder to ignore than the polls.