LONDON: Boris Johnson’s Conservatives lost two parliamentary seats on Friday, a new blow to Britain’s prime minister who then lost a close ally with the surprise resignation of his party’s chairman and faced renewed calls to quit.
In Rwanda for a meeting of Commonwealth nations, Johnson was defiant, pledging to listen to voters’ concerns and do more to tackle a cost-of-living crisis after what he described as “tough” results in the two so-called by-elections.
The losses — one in the Conservatives’ traditional southern heartlands and in a northern English industrial seat won from Labour in the last election — suggest the broad appeal Johnson presented to win the 2019 election may be fracturing.
Fears that Johnson could have become an electoral liability may prompt lawmakers to move against him again after months of scandal over Covid-19 lockdown parties at a time when millions are struggling with rising food and fuel prices.
Johnson has so far resisted pressure to resign after he was fined for breaking lockdown rules at his Downing Street office.
This month, he survived a vote of confidence by Conservative lawmakers, though 41 per cent of his parliamentary colleagues voted to oust him, and he is under investigation by a committee over whether he intentionally misled parliament.
“I think as a government I’ve got to listen to what people are saying,” Johnson told broadcasters in Kigali after the results. “We’ve got to recognise there is more we’ve got to do.”
Following the losses in Tiverton and Honiton in southwest England, and Wakefield in the north, Conservative Party Chairman Oliver Dowden resigned in a carefully worded letter that hinted he might believe Johnson should take responsibility.
Published in Dawn, June 25th, 2022