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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson suffered a double blow as voters rejected his Conservative Party in two special elections dominated by questions about his leadership and ethics.
The party president resigned after the results early Friday, saying the party “cannot function as usual”.
Centrist Liberal Democrats reverse a large Conservative majority to win rural south west england seat Tiverton and Honiton, while the main opposition Labor Party reclaimed Wakefield from the Johnson Tories in northern England.
Contests triggered by the resignation of Conservative MPs affected by the sex scandal gave voters a chance to give their verdict on the prime minister after 41% of their own MPs voted to oust him.
“The people of Tiverton and Honiton have spoken for Britain,” said the region’s newly elected Liberal Democrat MP Richard Ford. “He sent a loud and clear message: It’s time for Boris Johnson to leave, and go now.”
A defeat in any district would have been a blow to the Prime Minister’s party. Losing both adds to panic among turbulent conservatives, who worry an already fiery but precarious and divisive Johnson is no longer an electoral asset.
Party president Oliver Dowden resigned, saying “our supporters are distressed and disappointed by recent events, and I share their sentiments.”
“We can’t go on with business as usual,” he said. “Someone must take responsibility and I have concluded that, under these circumstances, it would not be right for me to continue in office.”
“I will remain as loyal to the Conservative Party as ever,” he said without endorsing Johnson.
PM was 4,000 miles away at Commonwealth summit Result in Rwanda were declared.
he told reporters On Thursday that he would not step down if the Conservatives lost both elections, responding to the suggestion: “Are you crazy?”
“Governing parties usually don’t win by-elections, especially not in the mid-term,” he said. “That’s the only reality.”
Electoral trials come as Britain faces worst-case scenario survival crisis In a generation, with Russia’s war in Ukraine squeezing the supply of energy and food staples at a time of rising consumer demand, while the coronavirus pandemic recedes.
Johnson won a large majority in the 2019 general election by winning the traditional electorate of the Conservatives – affluent, old and concentrated in southern England – and the newcomers in poor, post-industrialized northern towns where many residents felt overlooked by governments for decades. Won.
Thursday’s elections were a test on both fronts. Rural Tiverton and Honiton have voted Conservative for generations, while Wakefield is a northern district that the Tories won from Labor in 2019.
Labor’s widely expected victory in Wakefield – whose previous Conservative legislator resigned after pleading guilty to sexual assault – is a boost to a party that has been out of office nationally since 2010.
Labor leader Keir Starmer said this showed the party was “back to the working people side, where we lost earlier, and is ready for government.”
Pollsters had said the race for Tiverton and Honiton was tight, but the Liberal Democrats overturned a 24,000-vote Conservative majority to win by a majority of over 6,000 votes. The election was called after the district’s Conservative legislator resigned after being caught watching pornography in the Chamber of the House of Commons.
Despite the defeat, Johnson has an overwhelming majority in parliament. But his already shaky authority among his own MPs has weakened.
Morality allegations have haunted the prime minister for months, culminating in a . happened in scam on parties Held in government buildings during Britain’s coronavirus lockdown.
Johnson was one of 83 people fined by police for attending parties, making him the first prime minister to break the law while in office. A civil servant’s report on the “Partygate” scandal said Johnson should take responsibility for “failures of leadership and judgment” that created a culture of rule-breaking in government.
he survived a no-confidence vote He was left vulnerable this month by his own party but after 41% of Conservative MPs voted to remove him.
Under party rules, Johnson may not face another such vote for a year, but Friday’s defeat will add to the pressure to change it, and the prospect of another revolt in the coming months is rising. .
Conservative MP Roger Gale, a longtime critic of Johnson, reiterated his call for the prime minister to step down.
“The soul of our party is at stake.