Polls in Wakefield, and Tiverton and Honiton were first since prime minister narrowly survived a vote of confidence this month.
The United Kingdom’s Conservative Party has been defeated in two parliamentary by-elections, in losses that dealt a blow to the leadership of embattled Prime Minister Boris Johnson and prompted the resignation of the party’s chairman.
The polls on Thursday in the West Yorkshire seat of Wakefield and the South West seat of Tiverton and Honiton were the first since Johnson narrowly survived a vote of confidence this month, in which 41 percent of his parliamentary colleagues voted to remove him.
The Conservatives lost a majority of more than 24,000 votes in Tiverton and Honiton, in a deeply Conservative part of England’s South West, defeated by the centrist Liberal Democrats who secured a majority of more than 6,000. Meanwhile, the main opposition Labour Party reclaimed Wakefield in Northern England.
The losses suggest the electoral coalition Johnson brought together at the 2019 national election may be fracturing while increasing jitters among restive Conservatives who already worry the ebullient but erratic and divisive Johnson is no longer an electoral asset.
Johnson has come under intense pressure to resign after he was fined for breaking COVID-19 lockdown rules after a police investigation into gatherings at his Downing Street offices.
Following the losses in Tiverton and Honiton, and Wakefield, Conservative Party Chairman Oliver Dowden resigned, saying things had to change in the party. The contests were triggered by the high-profile resignations of Conservative politicians – one who admitted watching pornography in parliament, and another found guilty of sexually assaulting a teenage boy.