Boris Johnson’s party loses 2 parliamentary polls in major setback

Boris Johnson won’t be back in Britain until the end of next week.

London:

Beleaguered British Prime Minister Boris Johnson suffered two crushing defeats in Friday’s by-elections to parliament, including in a Southwest English seat previously held for more than a century by his ruling Conservatives, prompting the party leader to resign.

In a stunning turnaround, the Tories saw their December 2019 general election majority of more than 24,000 votes destroyed by the centrist Liberal Democrats in the Tiverton and Honiton constituency.

At the same time, the main Labor opposition regained the Westminster seat of Wakefield, in the north of England, another sign of revival after the party’s worst election performance in decades two and a half years ago.

The disastrous consequences for the Conservatives are expected to put new pressure on the embattled Johnson as the highly damaging ‘Partygate’ scandal, which has seen lockdown-breaking gatherings in Downing Street continue to haunt him and his party.

They had been tipped off to lose both midterm elections and Johnson had already sworn on Thursday – while in Rwanda for a Commonwealth summit – that he would not resign if that happened.

But the horrific results, the latest in a string of electoral defeats for the Tories over the past year, led to the immediate resignation of party chairman Oliver Dowden.

“Our supporters are saddened and disappointed by the recent events, and I share their feelings,” Johnson’s main ally wrote in a letter of resignation to the conservative leader.

“We cannot continue as normal. Someone has to take responsibility and I have concluded that under these circumstances it would not be right for me to remain in office.”

“wake up”

Votes were held on Thursday after the two territories’ former Tory MPs have both resigned in disgrace in recent months.

Neil Parish, the ex-legislator of Tiverton and Honiton, resigned after admitting to watching pornography on his phone in the House of Commons, while Imran Ahmad Khan of Wakefield was jailed for sexually abusing a teenage boy.

The midterm elections also follow months of scandal and setbacks that have severely dented the popularity of Johnson and his party, coming just weeks after he narrowly survived an attempt by his own lawmakers to oust him as Tory leader and prime minister.

The Liberal Democrats won Tiverton and Honiton — who had voted Conservative in every general election since the 1880s — by more than 6,000 votes, according to officials at a census center in the nearby town of Crediton.

Meanwhile, the opposition party in Wakefield — one of dozens of traditional Labor seats Johnson took in 2019 with a pledge to “get Brexit done” and address glaring regional economic inequalities — won by nearly 5,000 votes.

Labor leader Keir Starmer, who is about to replace Johnson as prime minister in the next general election in 2024, said his party’s victory in one of the former seats domestically showed it for the first time in more than a decade. decade to regain power.

“Wakefield has shown that the country has lost faith in the Tories,” he said in a statement, following Labour’s first win since 2012.

“This result is a clear judgment of a conservative party that has run out of energy and ideas.”

“Lies and Violations of the Law”

Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey said his party “made political history with this stunning victory” and that it was a “wake-up call for all those Conservative MPs who support Boris Johnson”.

“The public is tired of Boris Johnson’s lies and law-breaking and it is time for Conservative MPs to finally do the right thing and fire him,” he added.

Johnson has fought for his survival for months after a series of controversies.

Several opinion polls have shown that the public thinks he lied about the breakthrough of Covid lockdown events in Downing Street and that he should resign.

Even before the controversy erupted last December, the 58-year-old Brexit architect saw the loss of two once safe seats in by-elections last year.

He then scored dismal in the local elections in May.

Weeks later, dozens of Conservative MPs passed a no-confidence vote in Johnson, with more than 40 percent of them leaving their leader, leaving him severely weakened and struggling to restore his turbulent tenure.

The polls come as Britain is gripped by 40 years of high inflation and a cost of living crisis that has sent prices soaring for basic necessities such as energy, petrol and food.

This week’s strikes by railway workers – including on Election Day Thursday – were some of the largest seen in Britain in decades and have heightened the sense of crisis.

Johnson, who travels to Germany and then Spain for G7 and NATO summits after his current visit to Rwanda, won’t be back in Britain until late next week.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.)

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