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Conservatives Lose 2 U.K. By-Elections, Adding to Pressure on Boris Johnson

Conservatives Lose 2 U.K. By-Elections, Adding to Pressure on Boris Johnson

LONDON — Britain’s governing Conservative Party lost two strategically important parliamentary seats in elections on Thursday, dealing a damaging blow to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and raising fresh doubts about his scandal-scarred leadership.

Voters in Wakefield, a faded industrial city in West Yorkshire, and in Tiverton and Honiton, a rural stretch of southwest England that is the party’s heartland, evicted the Conservative Party from seats that had come open after lawmakers were brought down by scandals of their own.

In Wakefield, the Labour Party won a widely expected victory, with a comfortable margin over the Conservatives, in results released early on Friday morning. In the south, which had been viewed as a tossup, the Liberal Democratic Party overcame a huge Conservative majority in the last election to win the seat, also by a solid margin.

The double defeat is a stinging rebuke of Mr. Johnson, who survived a no-confidence vote in his party earlier this month, precipitated by a scandal over illicit parties held at Downing Street during the coronavirus pandemic. It will likely revive talk of another no-confidence vote, though under the party’s current rules, Mr. Johnson should not face another challenge until next June.

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The defeats exposed Conservative vulnerabilities on two fronts: the so-called “red wall,” the industrial north of England, where Mr. Johnson shattered a traditional Labour stronghold in the 2019 general election, and in the southwest, a traditional Tory stronghold often called the “blue wall.”

As grim as the electoral prospects for the Conservatives look, they could worsen further next year, with galloping inflation, interest rate hikes and Britain almost certainly heading for a recession.

In Tiverton, where the Liberal Democrats…

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