UK PM Boris Johnson under pressure after losing two parliamentary seats.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson gives a speech at the Business Forum during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Kigali, Rwanda June 23, 2022. Dan Kitwood/Pool via REUTERS
LONDON, June 24 (Reuters) – Prime Minister Boris Johnsons Conservative Party lost two parliamentary seats on Friday, prompting the resignation of the partys chairman and renewing doubts about the future of Britains embattled leader.
The losses – one in the Conservatives traditional southern heartlands and in a northern England seat won from Labour in the last election – suggest the electoral coalition Johnson brought together at the 2019 national election may be fracturing.
The transformation of Johnson from vote winner to electoral liability may prompt lawmakers to move against him again after months of scandal over COVID-19 lockdown parties and amid a growing cost-of-living crisis.
Johnson has resisted intense pressure to resign after he was fined for breaking lockdown rules at his Downing Street office, and rejected the idea that he would quit if his governing party lost the so-called by-elections. read more
“It’s absolutely true we’ve had some tough by-election results… I think as a Government I’ve got to listen to what people are saying,” Johnson told broadcasters after the results.
This month he survived a vote of confidence by Conservative lawmakers, though 41% of his parliamentary colleagues voted to oust him, and he is under investigation by a committee over whether he intentionally misled parliament.
Following the losses in Tiverton and Honiton in southern England and Wakefield in the north, Conservative Party Chairman Oliver Dowden resigned, saying things had to change.
“Yesterdays parliamentary 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,” Dowden said in a resignation letter to Johnson.
“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.”
Several Conservative lawmakers tweeted support for Dowden, saying he was not to blame for the results in messages that suggested resurgent dissent against Johnsons leadership.
Although under his partys rules Johnson cannot be challenged with a no-confidence motion for another year, lawmakers fearing for their own futures may decide to reduce the grace period to bring about another vote.
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