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Johnson in crisis after Tories crushed in U.K. parliamentary votes

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson (L). File.

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson (L). File. | Photo Credit: AP

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson Friday refused to bow to renewed demands to quit, after his Conservatives suffered two crushing defeats in Westminster elections and a staunch ally resigned.

In a pointed letter to Mr. Johnson, party chairman and cabinet member Oliver Dowden said “somebody” had to shoulder the blame for “recent events”.

That was widely seen as a reference to “Partygate” and other scandals dogging the prime minister, who only narrowly survived a no-confidence vote this month among Tory MPs.

Also read: U.K. ‘partygate’ report blames culture of Johnson’s office

But Mr. Johnson framed the election setbacks as mid-term blues for the Conservatives, as Britain contends with inflation reaching double-digit levels not seen since the 1970s.

National strikes by railway workers this week have added to the sense of crisis.

“Clearly we’ve got to listen to these results,” he said from Rwanda, where he is attending a Commonwealth summit. “We will keep going, addressing the concerns of people.”

Mr. Johnson travels to Germany and then Spain for G7 and NATO summits after his current visit to Rwanda. He is not due back in Britain until late next week, and in the meantime Tory critics will be sharpening their knives.

If replicated in the next general election due by 2024, the results in the two by-elections would consign the Conservatives to a historic national defeat.

In the Tiverton and Honiton constituency, southwest England, the party saw its 2019 general election majority of more than 24,000 votes wiped out by the centrist Liberal Democrats, in one of the biggest upsets of UK electoral history.

The main Labour opposition meanwhile regained the Westminster seat of Wakefield, in northern England, in a further sign of its resurgence after Johnson triumphed in 2019 on a vow to “get Brexit done”.

Since then, the impact of Brexit and the COVID pandemic have worsened the economic picture, and opinion polls show widespread disgust at Mr. Johnson’s leadership arising from lockdown-busting parties held in Downing Street.


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Printable version | Aug 6, 2022 3:09:51 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/johnson-in-crisis-after-tories-crushed-in-uk-parliamentary-votes/article65561261.ece