Double by-election humiliation the ‘decisive blow’ against Boris Johnson, senior Welsh Labour MP says
The double by-election humiliation suffered by Boris Johnson overnight was the “decisive blow” against his premiership, a senior Welsh Labour MP has said.
Boris Johnson has said he will “listen” to voters but will “keep going” after losing Tory stronghold of Tiverton and Honiton to the Lib Dems as well as surrendering Wakefield to Labour.
But the defeats were swiftly followed by the resignation of previously loyal Conservative Party Chair Oliver Dowden, saying in a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson that “someone must take responsibility”.
Rhondda MP Chris Bryant who has been vocal in calling for Conservatives to ditch the Prime Minister over scandals such as partygate concluded that he was now on his way out.
“Politics rarely delivers unequivocal moments. Yesterday was one such,” Chris Bryant said.
“Labour achieved a much bigger swing in Wakefield than even we thought possible and the Tories were still briefing they might win in Tiverton yesterday morning.
“Voters dealt Johnson a decisive blow.”
In the rural Devon constituency of Tiverton and Honiton, the Liberal Democrats overturned a 24,000 Tory majority to win, while Labour reclaimed Wakefield.
Mr Johnson, speaking to broadcasters in Rwanda, said he would take responsibility, but stressed the cost-of-living crisis was the most important thing for voters, saying it is “true that in mid-term governments post-war lose by-elections”.
“It’s absolutely true we’ve had some tough by-election results, they’ve been, I think, a reflection of a lot of things, but we’ve got to recognise voters are going through a tough time at the moment,” he said at a conference centre in Kigali.
“I think as a Government I’ve got to listen to what people are saying – in particular to the difficulties people are facing over the cost of living, which I think for most people is the number one issue.
“We’re now facing pressures on the cost of living, we’re seeing spikes in fuel prices, energy costs, food costs – that’s hitting people.
“We’ve got to recognise there is more we’ve got to do and we certainly will, we will keep going addressing the concerns of people until we get through this patch.”
In an interview with Channel 4 News, Mr Johnson insisted: “I, of course, take responsibility for the electoral performance of the Government.”
Oliver Dowden, who was due to represent the UK Government on the media on Friday morning, said in his letter to the PM the by-elections “are the latest in a run of very poor results for our party”.
“Our supporters are distressed and disappointed by recent events, and I share their feelings,” he said.
“We cannot carry on with business as usual. Somebody must take responsibility and I have concluded that, in these circumstances, it would not be right for me to remain in office.”
He added: “I want to emphasise that this is a deeply personal decision that I have taken alone.
“I will, as always, remain loyal to the Conservative Party.”
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