The Wakefield, Tiverton and Honeyton polls are the first since the Prime Minister narrowly passed a confidence vote this month.
Britain’s Conservative Party has lost two parliamentary by-elections, dealing a blow to the leadership of embattled Prime Minister Boris Johnson and prompting the resignation of the party’s chairman.
The polls on Thursday in the West Yorkshire constituency of Wakefield and the south-west constituencies of Tiverton and Honeyton were the first since Johnson Barely pass a vote of confidence This month, 41 percent of his parliamentary colleagues voted to remove him.
The Conservatives lost a majority of more than 24,000 votes in Tiverton and Honeyton, and in the Conservative region of south-west England were defeated by the centrist Liberal Democrats, who won a majority of more than 6,000 votes. Meanwhile, the main opposition Labour Party has retaken Wakefield in northern England.
The losses suggest that the electoral coalition that Johnson has assembled in the 2019 national election may be breaking down, alongside growing tensions in the restless Conservative Party, already concerned that the ebullient but capricious and divisive Johnson is no longer an electoral asset.
Johnson is under intense pressure to resign after he was fined for breaking COVID-19 lockdown rules following a police investigation into a rally at his Downing Street office.
Following the losses at Tiverton and Honeyton and Wakefield, Conservative Party chairman Oliver Dowden resigned, saying changes had to be made within the party. The races were sparked by the high-profile resignations of Tory politicians – one who pleaded guilty to viewing pornography in Parliament and another who was found guilty of sexually assaulting a teenage boy.
“Yesterday’s parliamentary by-election was the latest in a string of very bad results for our party. Our supporters are distressed and disappointed by recent events, and I share their feelings,” Dowden said in his resignation letter to Johnson. .
“We can’t do business as usual. Someone has to be held accountable and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not appropriate for me to stay on in the circumstances.”
Although he can no longer be challenged by a no-confidence motion under his party’s rules, there are fears that his future MPs may decide to shorten the grace period for another vote.
On Friday, Johnson said he would listen to voters, particularly about the difficulties people face with the cost of living, but pledged to “move on”.
The Lib Dems said their victories in Tiverton and Honeyton were the largest ever overturned in a UK parliamentary by-election, a sign other Conservative politicians could be at risk of losing their seats in the party’s southern heartland .
In his victory speech, winning candidate Richard Ford said Johnson should “go, go now”.
“As Boris Johnson stays in power every day, he will bring more shame, confusion and neglect,” he said.
Johnson on Thursday rejected a suggestion that he could resign if the Conservative Party loses two seats, saying it was common for the ruling party to lose mid-term by-elections.
Meanwhile, Labour leader Kirsten Starmer said in a statement that Wakefield’s result was “a clear judgment on a Conservative Party that has run out of energy and ideas”.
“Wakefield shows that the country has lost faith in the Conservative Party,” he said, referring to the Conservative Party.
Johnson led the Conservatives to their largest majority in 30 years in the 2019 national election, winning praise from his party for his ability to win in traditional Labour polling areas in the north and mid-England.
However, Wakefield’s defeat could show that his ability to win again in those areas in the next national election, expected in 2024, has also been compromised.