Setback For Boris Johnson As Conservatives In UK Lose Two Key By-Elections; Tory Chair Quits

by Swarajya Staff - Jun 24, 2022 03:36 PM +05:30 IST
Setback For Boris Johnson As Conservatives In UK Lose Two Key By-Elections; Tory Chair Quits British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Snapshot
  • Johnson now faces the challenge of uniting his own party behind him and proving that he is still an electoral asset.

After barely surviving a no-confidence vote that was initiated against him by his own party members, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Conservative Party has now suffered another blow.

The Conservatives have lost the Wakefield and Tiverton and Honiton by-elections on the same night. The party chair, Oliver Dowden, has resigned saying someone “must take responsibility”.

Labour Party won the seat of Wakefield and the Liberal Democrats "overturned a 24,000-plus majority to snatch Tiverton and Honiton", according to a report by The Guardian.

The Tiverton and Honiton result is of particular note. This seat has been Conservative for more than a century. Richard Foord of LibDems defeated the Tory party's Helen Hurford by 6,144 votes on this seat. The result of this seat is the biggest numerical majority ever overturned in a by-election.

Labour's win in Wakefield was less surprising. Still, it is a big boost for Keir Starmer, who is battling to regain the 'red wall' seats.

Meanwhile, the British Prime Minister is in Rwanda. Before he boarded his flight for the African country, Johnson was asked if he would consider stepping down in the event of the part losing the two elections. "Are you crazy," Johnson had said in response to the question.

"Governing parties generally do not win by-elections, particularly not in mid-term. You know, I’m very hopeful, but you know, there you go," he added.

Political analysts believe that after the defeat in by-elections, Johnson will face more pressure from his own party members.

"The by-elections are the latest in a run of very poor results for our party, our supporters are distressed and disappointed by recent events, and I share their feelings. We cannot carry on with business as usual. Somebody must take responsibility and I have concluded that, in these circumstances, it would not be right for me to remain in office," reads the letter by Dowden to Johnson.

Sir Roger Gale, who is a Conservative MP, told in an interview to the BBC Radio 4 that "an honourable prime minister, even at this stage, would reconsider his position."

Gale was speaking in reference to Johnson barely surviving the no-confidence vote some time ago. Gale expects Johnson to quit, but it is unlikely that Johnson will quit.

According to Tory party rules, once a no-confidence vote has been initiated against the Prime Minister and the Prime Minister has survived it, he or she cannot be challenged with another no-confidence vote for a year.

As per the report from The Guardian, Boris Johnson has said that he will listen to voters but 'keep going'.

Meanwhile, James Johnson, is a Tory pollster who worked for Theresa May whilst she was at the 10 Downing Street, said that there is only one person responsible for the defeat and that is Boris Johnson.

Boris Johnson spoke to the BBC from Rwanda this morning.

"I think that what governments also have to recognise is that I don’t want to minimise the importance of what voters are saying, but it is also true that in mid-term, government, post-war, lose by-elections. I think if you look back to last May the truly astonishing thing was we managed to win Hartlepool in very different circumstances," he said.

"What we need to do now is reflect on where voters are, and what they are basically feeling is that we came through Covid well and we took a lot of the right decisions there. But we are facing pressures on the costs of living. We are seeing spikes in fuel prices, energy costs, food costs, that is hitting people. We have to recognise that there is more that we have got to do and we certainly will, we will keep addressing the concerns of people until we get through this patch," he added.

Johnson now faces the challenge of uniting his own party behind him and proving that he is still an electoral asset.

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