British Prime Minister Johnson’s Conservative Party has suffered a great defeat in by-elections. A seat that had been in her possession for almost 200 years now goes to the Liberal Democrats. “A humiliation for Johnson,” the British newspapers write.
By-elections to the House of Commons were held yesterday in the English constituency of North Shropshire. The Conservative MP in that constituency – a close confidant of Prime Minister Johnson – had to resign after a tampering scandal, and so a successor had to be chosen.
In the United Kingdom, the electoral system for the House of Commons means that the winner gets the seat in a district. However, unlike in our country, the seats are not distributed among the different parties that obtained votes in that constituency. So the winner takes it all.
And that led to a striking result. Not the Conservative candidate, but the Liberal Democrat candidate got the most votes. As a result, the Conservatives lost a seat that they had held for almost 200 years. Remarkable because the seat was supposedly a safe seat for the Conservatives. Helen Morgan of the Liberal Democrats also won by a large margin.
“Boris Johnson, the party is over,” Morgan said in her victory speech, a reference to the fuss over the clandestine Christmas parties in Johnson’s entourage? The British government “runs on lies and bluffs,” she added. “She can and will be defeated.”
According to British media, this defeat is a serious blow to Johnson and his government; even more, they see it as a “humiliation”. The ruling party is often punished in by-elections, but the magnitude of this defeat may indicate that voters in North Shropshire are very dissatisfied with the Johnson government.
It says that it will only increase the pressure on the prime minister from his own parliamentary group. Johnson has been plagued by a number of scandals lately. For example, images and photos surfaced of Christmas parties and a Christmas quiz held at the end of last year when fairly strict corona measures and a lockdown were in force.
Several Conservative MPs say they have understood the message from voters in North Shropshire and are urging the Prime Minister to change course. “He has to listen to his party,” it sounds, among other things. “Johnson is a talented communicator, but he needs better advisors.”
Johnson gave his Conservative Party a landslide election victory in the House of Commons at the end of 2019 but now appears to be increasingly hindering the party’s reputation and possible success in future elections. However, there does not seem to be a majority within the party at the moment to impeach him.
National polls indicate that the Labor Democrats are now surpassing the Conservatives. The next national elections are expected to take place in 2024.