Boris Johnson put to the test by two tough by-elections

Boris Johnson endures two tough by-elections


Voters cast their ballots in the North and South West of England on Thursday in two by-elections that promise to be tricky for Boris Johnson and test the Conservative Prime Minister's ability to do win his side. 

Two weeks after surviving a no-confidence vote in the wake of “partygate” – a case of drunken parties in Downing Street during the confinements – the prospect for the Tories of losing two seats in Parliament risks accentuating the climate of distrust. within the majority.

However, Boris Johnson, 58, unsurprisingly dismissed out of hand any idea of ​​resigning in the event of failure: “Are you crazy?” he launched from Rwanda, where he is attending the Commonwealth summit, to the journalists who accompany him.

“Generally the parties in power do not win the by-elections, particularly in the middle of their term,” he said. “I'm full of hope”, but “it's like that”.

The two elections are held following less than rosy affairs for the conservatives, in constituencies heavy with political meaning.

In Wakefield, in the north of England, it is a traditionally Labor stronghold delighted in December 2019 during the triumph of the Tories which is at stake. Hoping to take over this section of the “red wall” collapsed during the last general elections, the leader opposition leader Keir Starmer has claimed that Wakefield “could be the birthplace of the next Labor government”.

Polls give a clear lead – by around 20 points – to Labor candidate Simon Lightwood, employee of the British public health service, the NHS.


The poll was triggered by the resignation of incumbent MP Imran Khan, sentenced to 18 months in prison for the sexual assault of a teenager. The constituency was continuously in the hands of Labor between 1932 and 2019.

Between the anger caused by partygate, the fact that “a lot of people like Boris anyway” and “are fed up hearing about the case, Rose Nappa, a 44-year-old Wakefield voter, predicts an “interesting” ballot.

“From what I see”, the idea during this vote is to “beat Boris Johnson”, “the gap between rich and poor is only widening”, estimates Judy Froggat, retired. “I was a teacher for 36 years and I always told the children to tell the truth”, and “the man who runs the country is a patent liar”, “this is a really bad message”, “I I'm outraged by what he's done,” she rants.

In Tiverton and Honiton, a conservative South West England constituency since its creation in 1997, voters choose Neil Parish's successor. The 65-year-old MP had submitted his resignation after admitting that he had watched pornography on his phone in Parliament.

The ex-farmer by profession explained that he came across the adult site while searching tractors, before returning to it in “a moment of madness”.

Strike and inflation

The Liberal Democrats hope to win, as they did last December in North Shropshire, a very rural conservative stronghold in the north of England, lost after a lobbying scandal.

The Polling stations opened at 7 a.m. local time and will close at 10 p.m. The results are expected at dawn on Friday.

Regarded as a winning machine after his triumph in the legislative elections two and a half years ago under the promise of achieving Brexit, Boris Johnson saw this image s collapse with the scandals that punctuate his mandate.

He remains for the moment in theory sheltered, the current rules among the Conservatives preventing a new vote of no confidence for a year.

The context is proving unfavorable for the Johnson government, with inflation at its highest for 40 years — exceeding 9% — at the origin of a massive strike by railway workers, and the recent failure of a controversial attempt to deport migrants to Rwanda.

All after a succession of scandals to which is now added the “Carriegate” on supposed repeated attempts by Boris Johnson to obtain in the past paid positions for his wife Carrie.