Although the defeat was expected and even cushioned, the blow Boris Johnson dealt to British voters this Thursday will once again call into question the prime minister’s political future and credibility among his own. The Conservative Party suffered a double defeat by Labor and the Liberal Democrats respectively in the Wakefield and Tiverton Honiton by-elections. So-called by-elections are calls to vote any time during the legislature when a seat becomes vacant. In the Wakefield case, conservative Imran Ahmad Khan was convicted and jailed for sexually abusing a teenager. It was one of the territories dominated by the left for decades – part of the so-called “red wall” in the north of England – that Johnson managed to return to the conservatives in his historic victory in December 2019. Tiverton Honiton, in the wealthy southwest of England, it was also the natural territory of the Conservatives. Up to this day. His Conservative MP, Neil Parish, resigned after two female colleagues accused him of watching pornography on a cell phone during a House of Commons meeting.
Conservative Party President Oliver Dowden sent a letter to Johnson early this Friday announcing his resignation to try to undo the damage done to the election coup. “Our voters are distraught and disappointed by recent events, and I share their sentiment.” Without mentioning it, Dowden pointed directly to the Downing Street party scandal during the lockdown, which ended with the prime minister being fined by the police for breaking the law, and to an internal vote of no confidence in Johnson, in which 41% of his deputies demanded him exile. “We cannot continue as if nothing happened. Someone needs to take responsibility, and I came to the conclusion that it would be wrong for me to remain in this position, ”Dawden explained.
It is still too early to determine whether Johnson’s defeat – since no one hesitates to attribute it to the prime minister and not to two local conservative candidates – is the ultimate voter turnout or a temporary punishment brought on by the annoyance and frustration of many of them over the partisan scandal. Johnson visits Rwanda for an event that brings Commonwealth countries together. [la Comunidad política surgida después de la fragmentación del Imperio Británico], ruled out in advance as “madness” the possibility of his resignation as a result of defeat in a by-election. The Liberal Democrats have always been the preferred choice for traditional right-wing voters to send a warning signal or rebuke the Tories. His candidate Richard Furd’s victory in Thiventon-Honiton, with more than 6,000 votes more than his Conservative rival, reflects a tactical vote. Both Labor sympathizers and the Conservatives themselves turned to Ford and changed the situation. In 2019, the Tory advantage in this district was more than 24,000 ballots. “This should be a wake-up call for Conservative MPs who continue to support Johnson. They cannot afford to ignore this result,” said Ed Davey, leader of the Liberal Democrats. Candidate Foord went even further in his victory speech: “The British came out tonight to send the signal loud and clear. It’s time for Boris Johnson to go. It has brought us into a state of shame, chaos and oblivion. He is not fit to lead,” he said.
relief of labor
The victory of Labor Party candidate Simon Lightwood in Wakefield allowed Labor Party leader Keir Starmer to breathe a sigh of relief. Three years after replacing Jeremy Corbyn at the head of a far more left-wing formation than his successor, Starmer’s role continues to be questioned by voters and activists nostalgic for the previous period. Polls are gradually showing improvement in their expectations ahead of the upcoming general election, but not enough to think about a possible victory. Reclaiming Wakefield, Labor’s historic territory before Johnson arrived and changed the game, allows Labor to feed on the hope of a comeback. In 2019, the Conservatives achieved a 6% (lead) turnaround in this county. This Thursday, the candidate from the left formation managed to outperform his rival by more than ten percentage points.
“This result is a clear verdict that the Conservative Party has run out of ideas and energy. The Labor Party is on the side of the working people, it is reclaiming the seats it previously lost and it is ready to govern,” Starmer said early this Friday morning, with Wakefield’s victory already in sight.
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After a long count, at 4:00 am (5:00 pm Spanish Peninsular Time), the two new election results were two new reminders to Conservative MPs that Johnson’s voter-mobilization magic had begun to erode badly. In principle, the party’s internal rules prohibit holding a new internal vote of no confidence until one year after the previous one. In early June, the British Prime Minister managed to keep his post with difficulty. The general opinion of the Tories is that a truce should be concluded before the autumn before they change their minds about letting go of their leader’s hand. This Friday’s electoral defeat and the upcoming summer of strikes and social unrest in the United Kingdom have once again put the British prime minister in a stalemate.
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