United Kingdom: New political upheaval after the defeat of Boris Johnson in two by-elections

Two weeks after surviving a no-confidence motion, Boris Johnson is again weakened by two defeats in parliamentary by-elections. The centrist Liberal Democrats overthrew a Tory majority in the constituencies of Tiverton and Honiton, while Labor won Wakefield. It was the Conservatives’ third defeat in a year in by-elections, following defeats to the constituencies of Chesham and Amersham in September and North Shropshire in December.

The blow is particularly symbolic in Tiverton and Honiton, a constituency in southwest England that has been in conservative hands for decades. Six months after the “Partygate” scandal, voters turned in favor of the Liberal Democrats in a trend already seen in the May 5 local elections.

Loss of credibility on the economy

In the midst of the purchasing power crisis, conservatives have lost credibility on economic issues, especially as they distanced themselves from the low taxes and low spending argument beloved by traditional Conservative voters. The winner, Richard Ford, attacked the British Prime Minister from the front. “Every day that Boris Johnson clings to his position, he brings more shame, chaos and neglect,” he said.

For the Wakefield ballot, a constituency snatched from Labor in 2019 by the Conservatives, it was seen as a test for Boris Johnson’s ability to consolidate his positions in the “red wall”, the North’s Brexit supporter. are areas. England recently passed into the hands of the Tories. In this West Yorkshire town, the exam hasn’t changed since the Labor candidate won.

resigns as party leader

This black chain led to the resignation of Conservative Party chairman Oliver Dowden. These defeats are “the latest in a series of very bad consequences for our party”, he wrote in a letter to Boris Johnson, adding that “we cannot continue as if nothing had happened” and “somebody has to take responsibility”.

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Following this resignation, number two in the government was Dominic Raab, who was sent to morning television stations to defend his prime minister. He sees the outcome as a “combination of unfavorable circumstances” and “obstacles facing the medium-term government”. “We must listen and accept this response from voters,” he acknowledged.

critical voices

But on Friday morning there were again critical voices, such as that of Conservative MP Jesse Norman, who publicly declared his disagreement with Boris Johnson during the no-confidence motion. He tweeted, “Lengthening this chariot is not just an insult to voters (…) for Roger Gale, another Conservative critic, Oliver Dowden “could no longer defend indefinitely”.

According to Sky News, the resignation took the prime minister by surprise, a trip to Kigali, and a priority abroad for another 7 days. “Parties in power usually do not win by-elections, especially in the mid-term”, he expressed relativity. Boris Johnson nonetheless acknowledged that his government was “under pressure” with rising inflation. “We have to accept that we have to do more and we will do it, we will continue to address people’s concerns,” he said from Rwanda.

The result may give some impetus to Labor opposition leader Keir Starmer, himself criticized for not capitalizing on the Conservatives’ route enough in his own camp. Wakefield “could be the birthplace of the next Labor government”, he claimed.

Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey said his party made “political history with this surprise victory” and it was a “wake up call” for all Tory lawmakers who support Boris Johnson. Of the Conservative seats in the House of Commons, the majority is less comfortable than Tiverton and Honiton at 291. Suffice it to say that this defeat must have shocked the more than one elected Tory.

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About the Author: Rusty Kemp

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