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Double blow for UK’s Boris Johnson as he loses two key by-elections

Double blow for UK’s Boris Johnson as he loses two key by-elections

Campaign posters in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, ahead of a key by-election triggered after Conservative MP Imran Ahmed Khan was convicted of sexually assaulting a minor.

Daniel Harvey Gonzalez/In Pictures via Getty Images

LONDON — U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has suffered a double blow at the ballot box as his party lost two key parliamentary by-elections in Wakefield and Tiverton.

The votes, at opposite ends of England, had been viewed as a litmus test of Johnson’s standing after a string of scandals — including parties held at Downing Street during Covid-19 lockdowns — and a spiraling cost-of-living crisis.

The double defeats prompted the immediate resignation of Conservative Party Chairman Oliver Dowden, whose resignation letter said the party’s supporters were “distressed and disappointed by recent events” and that “someone must take responsibility.”

Wakefield

The main opposition Labour Party regained its former stronghold seat of Wakefield, in West Yorkshire, from Johnson’s ruling Conservative Party. Labour candidate Simon Lightwood defeated Conservative candidate Nadeem Ahmed by 4,925 votes as the Tories saw a 17.3-point slide in their vote share from the 2019 General Election.

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The Conservatives won Wakefield in 2019 for the first time since 1932, becoming one of 45 historically Labour-voting seats that flipped at the last general election. The slogan “Get Brexit Done” and Johnson’s “oven-ready” Brexit deal were central to the campaign that demolished Labour’s “red wall” across its traditional working class heartlands in 2019.

Johnson’s party went into Thursday’s Wakefield election with a slender 7.5-point majority.

The by-election was triggered by the resignation of Conservative Member of Parliament Imran Ahmad Khan following his conviction for sexually…

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