The chairman of the British Conservative Party Oliver Dowden announced his resignation to Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday June 24 after a series of “very bad results” electoral events including the defeats of the Tories in two partial parliamentary elections. “We cannot continue as if nothing had happened” et “someone has to take responsibility”he wrote in a letter.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservatives suffered two crushing defeats in parliamentary by-elections, including in a constituency in south-west England that has been Tory-held for more than a century. The centrist Liberal Democrats overthrew the Tory majority to win Tiverton and Honiton, a constituency in South West England that has been conservative since its inception in 1997, by more than 6,000 votes.

Climate of mistrust within the majority

The Labor Party, the main opposition party, recovered with nearly 5,000 votes in advance the constituency of Wakefield, in the north of England, a traditionally Labor stronghold delighted by the Tories during their triumph in December 2019. The votes took place on Thursday after two resignations by former Conservative MPs who had fallen out of favor in recent months.

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 the « partygate », these results are likely to further accentuate the climate of mistrust within the majority. However, Boris Johnson had ruled out Thursday, when he was in Rwanda for a Commonwealth summit, to resign in the event of defeat.

Newly elected MPs urge Boris Johnson to step down

In speeches hailing their victories, the two newly elected MPs said Britain had lost faith in Boris Johnson and urged him to step down. Opposition leader Keir Starmer, who hopes to replace Boris Johnson as prime minister after the next general election due in 2024, has claimed that Wakefield “could be the birthplace of the next Labor government”.

In addition to the « partygate », Boris Johnson had already lost two formerly secure seats in a by-election last year. He then scored very poorly in the local elections in May. Weeks later, dozens of Tory MPs called a vote of no confidence in him, and more than 40% of them turned their backs on their struggling leader.

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