Boris Johnson under pressure after British election defeats

  • Party chief resigns after defeats, saying change is necessary
  • Conservatives lose their seats in the south
  • Johnson’s Voter Fractures 2019
  • The Prime Minister is mired in the scandal of the closure parties

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

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 in an industrial seat in northern England that Labor won in the last election – suggest Johnson’s broad appeal to win the 2019 election may be cracked.

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Fears that Johnson could become an election liability 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 so far resisted pressure to resign after being fined for breaching lockdown rules in his Downing Street office. Read more

This month, he survived a vote of confidence by Tory 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.

“I think I as a government should listen to what people are saying,” Johnson told broadcasters in Kigali after the results. “We have to realize that there is more that we have to do.”

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

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

Some conservatives blamed him for poorly campaigning in both voting districts by ignoring local concerns.

Johnson responded by saying he understood Dowden’s disappointment but “this government was elected by a historic mandate a little more than two years ago” and will continue to work to that end.

A Conservative Party source said Johnson was not worried about further resignations from his cabinet team of senior ministers and criticized the media for what they described as “misleading reporting” on closed parties. Read more

“We are all to blame” for the defeats, Finance Minister Rishi Sunak said. Read more

conservative disorders

But the explanations provided by Johnson and his team may do little to ease frustration in the Conservative Party.

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 try to force a change for a second vote.

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

The wave of ministerial resignations may also be another way to force Johnson out before the next national election, expected in 2024. It may have been called earlier, but US Citibank said in a note that the likelihood of that was “limited”.

The by-election was triggered by the resignations of Tory MPs – one admitted to watching pornography in Parliament, another was convicted of sexually assaulting a teenage boy.

The party lost its large majority of more than 24,000 votes in Tiverton and Honiton to the centrist Liberal Democrats.

“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.

In the Wakefield Parliamentary seat in northern England, the main opposition Labor Party won. Read more

“This result is a clear verdict on a conservative party that has run out of energy and ideas,” Labor leader Keir Starmer said.

Johnson led the Conservatives to their largest majority in three decades in the 2019 national election, winning Labour’s traditional voting districts in northern and central England.

But Wakefield’s loss may indicate that his ability to repeat that ruse has been compromised.

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Additional reporting by Andrew McCaskill in Kigali, Movija M, William Schomberg and Kate Holton in London; Editing by Toby Chopra and Allison Williams

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Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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