Pressure mounts on British Prime Minister Johnson after crushing electoral defeats


  • Party chief resigns after defeats, saying change is necessary
  • Conservatives lose their seats in the south
  • 2019 Johnson voters split as Labor returns to Wakefield
  • The Prime Minister is mired in the scandal of the closure parties

LONDON (Reuters) – Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party lost two parliamentary seats on Friday, in a fatal blow to the ruling party that led to the resignation of its leader and raised doubts about the future of Britain’s prime minister.

In Rwanda for a meeting of Commonwealth nations, Johnson was defiant, pledging to listen to voters’ concerns and do more to tackle the cost of living crisis after what he described as the “difficult” results in the so-called by-election. .

The losses – one in traditional southern Conservative strongholds and a seat in northern England that Labor won in the last election – suggest the electoral coalition that Johnson assembled in the 2019 national election may be fracturing.

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Johnson’s shift from vote winner to electoral responsibility may prompt lawmakers to move against him again after months of scandal over COVID-19 lockdown parties at a time when millions are grappling with soaring food and fuel prices.

Johnson has resisted intense pressure to resign after being fined for breaching lockdown rules in his Downing Street office. Read more

This month he survived a confidence vote by Conservative MPs, even though 41% of his fellow parliamentarians voted to oust him, and he is under investigation by a committee over whether he deliberately misled Parliament.

“It’s absolutely true that we got some tough by-election results…I think I as a government should listen to what the people are saying,” Johnson told radio stations in Kigali after the results.

“We have to realize that there is more that we need to do… We will continue to address people’s concerns until we have this correction.”

After losses at Tiverton and Honiton in southwest England, and Wakefield in the north, Conservative Party chief Oliver Dowden resigned in a carefully worded letter that hinted that he believed Johnson should take responsibility for electoral defeats.

“Yesterday’s parliamentary by-election is the latest in a series of very poor results for our party,” Dowden said in his resignation letter to Johnson. “Our supporters are heartbroken and disappointed by recent events, and I share their sentiments.”

Dowden, a longtime ally of Johnson, added: “We cannot continue business as usual. Someone must take responsibility and I have concluded that under the circumstances it would not be right for me to remain in office.”

Several Conservative lawmakers tweeted in support of Dowden, saying he was not responsible for the findings in messages that indicated renewed opposition against Johnson’s leadership.

Although under his party’s rules Johnson cannot face another confidence motion for a year, lawmakers who fear for their future may decide to reduce the grace period for a second vote.

However, this may take some time. This will entail changes to the committee representing conservative lawmakers who do not have government jobs.

A wave of resignations from Johnson’s cabinet team of senior ministers may be another way to force the prime minister out before the next national election, scheduled for 2024. It may be called in earlier.

“Go now”

The Conservatives lost a large majority of more than 24,000 votes in Tiverton and Honiton, in the deeply conservative part of southwest England, and were defeated by the centrist Liberal Democrats who secured a majority of more than 6,000.

The Liberal Democrats said the scale of the victory indicated that other Conservative MPs may be at risk of losing their seats in the party’s southern strongholds.

“If the Conservative MPs don’t wake up, I think in the next election, voters will send them to pack their bags,” said Ed Davey, the leader of the Liberal Democrats.

LibDem winning candidate Richard Faure said in his victory speech that Johnson should “go and go now”.

In the separate parliamentary seat in Wakefield in northern England, the main opposition Labor Party also defeated the Conservatives. Read more

“Wakefield has shown that the country has lost faith in the Conservatives. This result is a clear verdict on a Conservative party that has run out of energy and ideas,” Labor leader Keir Starmer said in a statement.

Johnson led the Conservatives to their largest majority in three decades in the 2019 national election, winning praise from his party for his ability to win in Labor’s traditional voting districts in northern and central England.

But Wakefield’s loss may indicate that his ability to win again in these areas in the upcoming national elections has been jeopardized.

The by-election was triggered by high-profile resignations from Conservative MPs – one who admitted watching pornography in Parliament, the other guilty of sexually assaulting a teenage boy.

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(Reporting by Alistair Smoot in London; Additional reporting by Andrew McCaskill in Kigali and Elizabeth Piper in London; Editing by Toby Chopra

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