For Boris Johnson, the Southend West by-election, caused by the stabbing of popular veteran MP Sir David Amess in October, was a brief respite from the turmoil in Downing Street.
The result, declared just before 1.30am, was a foregone conclusion after Labour and the Liberal Democrats gave Tory candidate Anna Firth a free run.
And in her victory speech, she paid tribute to Sir David and the parties that didn’t stand.
“It’s inspiring to see politicians coming together from across the political divide to respect a great man and a great parliamentarian,” she said in a brief speech that was notable for containing no political point-scoring and didn’t mention Mr Johnson either.
But senior Tories here at the count admitted the party-gate scandal engulfing the prime minister, the calls for him to quit from Conservative MPs and the cost of living crisis were indeed raised by voters.
James Duddridge, an ex-minister and MP for the neighbouring constituency of Rochford and Southend East, told Sky News that MPs in Westminster have “lost the plot”
He told me: “People say to me ‘for God’s sake, tell Boris just to get on and run the country. That’s what’s needed.'”
Back at Westminster, MPs are claiming the near-meltdown in 10 Downing Street, after an exodus of four members of the PM’s inner circle in one day, has further increased pressure on the embattled premier.
Tory loyalists claim three of the quartet who quit are going as part of a clear-out promised by the PM after the Sue Gray report on party allegations.
That incendiary claim also prompted a rebuke from Rishi Sunak, in a move seen as distancing himself from Mr Johnson ahead of a leadership contest.
And it’s the Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who’s exerting the most potentially damaging pressure.
After declaring he wouldn’t have made the jibe about Sir Keir Starmer and Jimmy Savile, Mr Sunak has now turned up the heat on the PM in an article in today’s Sun.
“We have always been the party of sound money – we will always continue to be on my watch – and that is the only kind of party I am interested in,” he writes.
Despite the PM’s critics claiming Downing Street is in chaos, because Labour and the Liberal Democrats didn’t stand in this by-election the Conservatives were always going to win by a landslide here.
But the real battle for votes for the prime minister right now is with those mutinous Tory MPs who are determined to oust him.