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UK by-elections pose fresh threat to Boris Johnson

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 Voters began heading to the polls on Thursday in two closely watched UK by elections that risk renewed pressure on embattled Prime Minister Boris Johnson after months of scandals and setbacks Their Conservative rulers are poised to lose both contests for the parliamentary seats of Tiverton and Honiton in south west England and Wakefield in the north hellip
UK by-elections pose fresh threat to Boris Johnson

NNN: Voters began heading to the polls on Thursday in two closely watched UK by-elections that risk renewed pressure on embattled Prime Minister Boris Johnson after months of scandals and setbacks.

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Their Conservative rulers are poised to lose both contests, for the parliamentary seats of Tiverton and Honiton in south-west England and Wakefield in the north, after both Conservative MPs resigned in disgrace.

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Tiverton and Honiton MP Neil Parish has resigned after admitting to viewing porn on his phone in the House of Commons, while Wakefield’s Imran Ahmad Khan was jailed for sexually assaulting a teenager.

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The polls opened at 07:00 (06:00 GMT) and will close at 22:00 (21:00 GMT), and results are expected in the early hours of Friday.

The votes come just weeks after Johnson narrowly survived an attempt by his own lawmakers to remove him as party leader and prime minister.

In the June 6 vote among Conservative MPs, more than 40 percent of the parliamentary party abandoned him, leaving him severely weakened and struggling to re-establish his troubled mandate.

Johnson has spent months fighting for her survival after a series of controversies, including the “Partygate” saga, prompted many conservatives to question whether she should stay on as leader.

Various opinion polls have shown that the public believes he lied about the Covid lockdown breaking events at Downing Street and that he should resign.

Even before controversy erupted last December, the 58-year-old architect of Brexit saw the loss of two once-safe seats in last year’s by-election.

He then scored dismally in the local elections in May.

Defeat at the true Tory blue heart of Tiverton and Honiton, and at Wakefield, which Johnson seized in 2019 from the main opposition Labor party for the first time since the 1930s, could see his position challenged again.

‘Madness’ Parish, which described his actions as an indefensible moment of “total madness”, won a majority of more than 24,000 in Tiverton and Honiton in 2019.

There, the opposition Small Liberal Democrats are hoping to win the seat in rural Devon after overturning similarly large majorities in two other historically secure Conservative seats in 2021.

Wakefield, near Leeds, was one of dozens of so-called “red wall” Labor seats that Johnson took in 2019 on promises to “end Brexit” and address glaring regional economic inequalities.

But now he could back down due in part to Johnson’s declining popularity.

“Anything is better than the Tory Party, as far as I’m concerned, especially Boris Johnson,” Stephen, a 61-year-old hotel worker who has voted Labor for a long time, told AFP this week.

‘Partygate’ and prices Surveys show Britain is locked in by 40-year highs in inflation and a cost-of-living crisis that has seen prices skyrocket for everyday essentials such as energy, petrol And food.

This week’s rail workers’ strikes, some of the biggest in Britain in decades, have added to the sense of crisis.

Some in Wakefield said they hoped that would weigh as heavily on voters’ minds as the Downing Street party saga.

“I think people will be affected by ‘Partygate,'” said David, a retired medical consultant.

“But I think the main thing that’s going to hit us is inflation and the rising cost of living from a heating and power standpoint and the ripple effect on food prices and transportation.”

Contention there also carries risks for Labour, who need to secure seats like Wakefield if they are to win the next general election due in 2024.

Labor leader Keir Starmer, a sober-minded former lawyer who has been trying to rebuild the center-left party after a devastating 2019 defeat, has been criticized for failing to connect with voters, particularly in his former heartland.

His critics are likely to take anything less than a convincing win at Wakefield as further evidence of his inability to complete the rebuild and return the party to power after 12 years in opposition.

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