Midterm Election Beats Pressure on Boris Johnson’s Leadership

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The defeat in two by-elections and the surprise resignation of the Conservative Party co-chairman threatened to plunge Boris Johnson’s leadership into another crisis.

The prime minister was adamant on Friday that he was not going anywhere as he defended his premiership at a Commonwealth leaders’ summit 4,000 miles away in Rwanda.

“There are going to be some hard times, no doubt people will keep hitting me and saying this or that to attack me,” Johnson said.

Boris Johnson defended his premiership in Rwanda’s Kigali (Dan Kitwood/PA)PA wire

“That’s fine, that’s absolutely right, that’s the job of politicians.

“Ultimately, voters, journalists, they have no one else to file their complaints with, I have to accept that.”

The prime minister also stressed that such defeats were typical of medium-term governments.

But the resignation of Secretary of State Oliver Dowden after the Tories lost their former stronghold of Tiverton and Honiton to the Liberals and Wakefield to Labour, has raised questions within the Conservative Party about whether and for how long Johnson can cling on as leader. .

Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer celebrated Friday with new Wakefield MP Simon Lightwood (Danny Lawson/PA)PA wire

Mr Dowden stepped down as co-chair of the Conservative Party, saying he and Tory supporters were “disturbed and disappointed by recent events” and told Johnson that “somebody needs to take responsibility”.

Former Conservative leader Michael Howard also urged the Prime Minister to step down for the good of their party and the nation, and urged the cabinet to consider stepping down to force him to resign to act.

While Mr Johnson said he was sure his own side had no intention of ousting him when he attended the summit before going to the G7 in Germany, some party members were outspoken in their criticism.

In 2019, some 324 Tories were elected with smaller majorities than that secured by Neil Parish in the Tiverton and Honiton constituency. His resignation for viewing pornography in parliament led to that by-election.

Ex-Conservative Party leader Oliver Dowden told PM ‘somebody has to take responsibility’ (Jeff Overs/BBC/PA)PA medium

Conservative veteran Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, who retained his seat in Cotswolds by a majority of 20,000 on the last vote, expressed concern they could lose their jobs in the next general election, while former minister Jesse Norman accused him of insulting him. of the electorate.

Veteran Tory MP and longtime critic of Mr Johnson, Sir Roger Gale, said the Prime Minister had “destroyed” the party’s reputation.

Despite some speculation in the wake of the midterm election results, Mr Dowden was the only minister to resign.

That has reportedly not stopped Tory rebels from using election defeats as a springboard for the latest heave attempt against the prime minister, with the Times reporting that opponents of Mr Johnson are planning a takeover of the Committee of Conservatives. backbenchers of 1922 in an effort to change the rules to allow for another vote of confidence in his leadership.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced criticism from opponents and party leaders in the UK (Dan Kitwood/PA)PA wire

Dowden’s departure could also lead to a reshuffle in the prime minister’s top team, with reports that Priti Patel could be asked to relinquish her role as home secretary to become party chairman.

The Sun also reports that Matt Hancock, who resigned the day after pictures of him kissing adviser Gina Coladangelo emerged, could potentially return to cabinet.

Sir Keir Starmer said on Friday Wakefield would go down in history as the “birthplace” of the next Labor government.

In West Yorkshire, Labor took Wakefield back with a 4,925 majority on a 12.7% swing from the Tories.

Wakefield was one of the so-called red wall seats the Tories won in the 2019 general election after being Labor since the 1930s.