Boris Johnson’s premiership plunged into crisis after by-election defeats

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Oris Johnson’s premiership was thrown into a full-blown crisis on Friday as two by-election defeats prompted the Conservative party chairman to resign.

In an explosive resignation letter, Oliver Dowden stressed that ‘someone must take responsibility’ for losing Wakefield in the ‘red wall’ to Labor and the former Tory stronghold of Tiverton and Honiton in Devon to the liberal democrats.

Election experts have said the dramatic swing of almost 30% from the Tories to the Lib-Dems in the West Country seat was the worst Tory performance since World War II in terms of percentage majority lost.

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In particular, Mr Dowden stressed that he remained ‘true to the Conservative Party’ – not pledging continued support for the Prime Minister.

He added that his resignation was a “deeply personal decision that I made alone”.

Westminster, however, was keen to see if other ministers, including Cabinet, would also step down in a coup attempt against Mr Johnson.

Rumor has it that at least one Cabinet minister and around five other ministers voted against Mr Johnson in the confidence vote earlier this month, which he won by 211 votes to 148.

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However, so far the Cabinet has remained loyal and shown no signs of action against him.

The first sign of Mr Johnson’s wider position within his cabinet will come on who agrees to replace Mr Dowden for the Friday morning media rounds, which are traditionally done by party chairmen after the election.

Mr Johnson, who is attending a Commonwealth leaders’ summit in Rwanda, suggested it would be ‘crazy’ for him to quit Number 10 if the party lost the two seats and said the mid-term by-elections were “never necessarily easy for any government”. ”.

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The Tiverton and Honiton by-election was sparked by the resignation of Tory MP Neil Parish after he was caught watching pornography in the House of Commons.

The Liberal Democrats overturned a majority of 24,000 Tories to win with a majority of 6,144.

New Wakefield MP Simon Lightwood says Labor is ‘rebuilding the red wall’

/ PA wire

In Wakefield, Simon Lightwood was elected with a majority of 4,925 over a 12.7% gap from Tory to Labour.

Former Wakefield MP Imran Ahmad Khan has resigned after being found guilty of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy – a crime for which he was jailed for 18 months.

The two elections were the first opportunity for voters to give their verdict on the Prime Minister and the parties just weeks after 41% of his own MPs voted against him in the vote of confidence and in the wake of the partygate scandal .

Mr Dowden said in his letter to the Prime Minister that the by-elections ‘are the latest in a series of very bad results for our party’.

“Our supporters are saddened and disappointed by recent events, and I share their feelings,” he said.

“We cannot carry on as if nothing had happened. Someone has to take responsibility and I concluded that in these circumstances it would not be fair for me to stay on.

The MP ended his letter by saying, “I want to emphasize that this is a deeply personal decision that I made alone.

“I will, as always, remain loyal to the Conservative Party.”

Being out of the country during the Commonwealth summit in Rwanda makes it more difficult for the Prime Minister and his team to have a firm grip on the situation.

However, so far, he has shown unwavering determination to resist any attempt to force him out.

Some Tory MPs, who criticized the Prime Minister, were quick to back Mr Dowden.

Simon Hoare, chairman of the Commons Northern Ireland Committee, tweeted: ‘An honorable letter from an honorable man.

“@OliverDowden is not responsible for these results. Since 2015, I have always been proud to call Oliver a friend. Never more so than today.”

Guildford MP Angela Richardson said: ‘Oliver is a fantastic colleague and he is certainly not to blame for these results.

North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale tweeted: ‘Oliver Dowden is a decent and honorable man who has clearly decided he can no longer defend the indefensible.

However, the Prime Minister has so far retained the confidence of many Tory MPs, particularly in the Midlands and the North.

Conservative party rules mean that another vote of confidence can only take place one year after the previous one.

However, Mr Johnson’s post as Prime Minister would still be in jeopardy if other Cabinet ministers step down or if senior MPs from the 1922 Committee of Backbenchers oppose him.

Richard Foord speaks after winning the by-election

/ Reuters

In Tiverton and Honiton, Richard Foord, the new Lib-Dem MP used his acceptance speech to call on Mr Johnson ‘to go, and to go now’, saying his victory had ‘sent shock waves through politics British”.

He said: “The people of Tiverton and Honiton have spoken on behalf of Britain. They sent a loud and clear message.

“Every day Boris Johnson clings to power, he brings more shame, chaos and neglect.”

Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey said it was “time for Tory MPs to finally do the right thing and sack him”.

A Conservative source said it was a ‘disappointing but not unexpected result’ and ‘we are confident we will regain this seat at the next general election’

Wakefield was one of the so-called red wall seats won by the Tories in the 2019 general election after being Labor since the 1930s.

New Labor MP Simon Lightwood said: “The people of Wakefield have spoken on behalf of the British people.

“They said, without reservation: Boris Johnson, your contempt for this country is no longer tolerated.”

Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer said: ‘Wakefield has shown the country has lost faith in the Tories.

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