Two defeats in partial legislative elections. The first in an area held for more than a century by the Conservatives and the second with the shock resignation of the chairman of his Conservative party, have further eroded the authority of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Acknowledging “difficult” results, Boris Johnson promised on Friday to “listen” to voters but was determined to “continue” his work as head of government.
A scathing setback
“We have to recognize that we have to do more and we will do it, we will continue, addressing people’s concerns,” the prime minister said from Rwanda, where he is for a Commonwealth summit.
In a crushing setback for the ruling party, the centrist Liberal Democrats conquered their stronghold of Tiverton and Honiton, in south-west England, overthrowing the conservative majority by more than 6,000 votes.
The Labor Party, the main opposition party, for its part recovered by nearly 5,000 votes the constituency of Wakefield, in the north of England, a traditionally Labor stronghold delighted by the Tories during their triumph in December 2019.
These humiliating defeats “are the latest in a series of very bad results for our party”, wrote the chairman of the British Conservative Party, Oliver Dowden in a letter to Boris Johnson announcing his resignation.
“We cannot continue as if nothing had happened”, “someone must take responsibility”, he continued, in this scathing missive for the head of government. The votes took place on Thursday after two resignations by former Conservative MPs who had fallen out of favor in recent months.
A surprise resignation
The Wakefield poll was triggered by the resignation of Imran Khan, sentenced to 18 months in prison for the sexual assault of a teenager. In Tiverton and Honiton, 65-year-old MP Neil Parish tendered his resignation after admitting watching pornography on his phone in Parliament.
Two weeks after surviving a vote of no confidence in the wake of “partygate” – the affair of the drunken parties in Downing Street during the confinements – these results are likely to accentuate even more the climate of distrust within the majority.