Troubled British Prime Minister Boris Johnson suffered two crushing defeats in parliamentary by-elections on Friday, including a South-West English seat previously held by his ruling Conservatives for more than a century, leaving the party The chairman had to step down.
In a surprise reversal, the Tories won a majority of more than 24,000 votes in their December 2019 general election overturned by centrist Liberal Democrats in the Tiverton and Honiton constituencies.
At the same time, the main Labor opposition regained the Westminster seat of Wakefield in northern England, after the party’s worst electoral performance two and a half years earlier.
The disastrous consequences for the Conservatives are set to pile up new pressure on the beleaguered Johnson, as the highly damaging “PartyGate” scandal involving lockdown-violating gatherings in Downing Street continues to haunt him and his party.
He was tipped to lose both by-elections and Johnson had already vowed on Thursday – while in Rwanda for a Commonwealth summit – that he would not resign if that happened.
But the dire consequences, the latest in a string of electoral defeats for the Tories last year, have led to the immediate resignation of party chairman Oliver Dowden.
“Our supporters are distressed and disappointed by recent events, and I share their sentiments,” the key Johnson aide wrote in a resignation letter to the Conservative leader.
“We cannot do business as usual. Someone must take responsibility and I have concluded that, under these circumstances, it would not be right for me to continue in the post. ,
‘wake up call’
The vote was held on Thursday after former Tory lawmakers from the two regions resigned in disgrace in recent months.
Former legislator from Tiverton and Honiton, Neil Parish, has left the House of Commons after admitting to viewing pornography on his phone, while Wakefield’s Imran Ahmed Khan was jailed for sexually assaulting a teenage boy.
The by-elections also follow months of scandals and setbacks that have severely affected the popularity of Johnson and his party, and he was ousted as Tory leader and prime minister just weeks later by his own lawmakers. In the effort, he narrowly survived.
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 count center in the nearby town of Crediton.
Meanwhile, in Wakefield – one of dozens of traditional Labor seats that Johnson took in 2019 on a promise to “get Brexit” and address regional economic inequalities – the opposition party won by nearly 5,000 votes.
Labor leader Keir Starmer, who is eyeing Johnson’s replacement as prime minister in the next general election to be held until 2024, said his party’s victory in one of his former Heartland seats showed he was a It could win back power for the first time in more than a decade.
After Labor’s first by-election advantage since 2012, he said in a statement, “Wakefield has shown that the country has lost faith in the Tories.”
“This result is a clear decision on a conservative party that has run out of energy and ideas.”
‘Liar and law breaker’
Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey said his party had made “political history with this surprise victory” and that it was “a wake-up call to all Conservative lawmakers who are backing Boris Johnson”.
“The public is sick of Boris Johnson’s lies and breaking the law and it is time for Conservative lawmakers to finally do the right thing and sack him,” he said.
Johnson has spent months fighting for his existence after several controversies.
Various opinion polls have shown that the public thinks he lied about the COVID lockdown-breaking incidents in Downing Street and should resign.
Even before the controversy began last December, the 58-year-old Brexit architect had twice seen the loss of secured seats in by-elections last year.
He then scored a dismal in the May local elections.
Weeks later, dozens of Conservative lawmakers brought a no-confidence motion in Johnson, with more than 40 percent abandoning their leader, leaving him severely vulnerable and struggling to resume his turbulent term.
The elections come at a time when Britain is reeling from a 40-year high in inflation and a cost-of-living crisis that has seen prices rise for everyday essentials such as energy, petrol and food.
Strikes by rail workers this week – including Thursday on Election Day – were some of the biggest strikes Britain has seen in decades and have added to the sense of crisis.
Johnson, who travels to Germany and then to Spain for the G7 and NATO summits after his current trip to Rwanda, is not scheduled to return to Britain until the end of next week.
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