The British Prime Minister is under pressure: failures – but Johnson wants to stay

Status: 24.06.2022 13:39

Renewed electoral defeats, the resignation of a loyal ally: the situation is becoming increasingly uncomfortable for British Prime Minister Johnson. Experts believe that a “John Major scenario” is possible.

Von Gabi Biesinger, ARD-Studio London

It was 5:35 a.m. when Oliver Dowden, the Conservative Party’s general secretary, tweeted his resignation. Shortly before, the results of two by-elections in Yorkshire and Devon were known. In the north of England, in Wakefield, Labor has recaptured the long-held chair that first fell to the Conservatives in 2019.

Gabi Biesinger

And in southwest Devon, in the constituencies of Tiverton and Honiton, the Liberal Democrats won the constituency that the Conservatives had held for more than 100 years. New Liberal MP Richard Foord said it was time for Prime Minister Boris Johnson to leave:

Liberal Democrats across the country are defeating the Conservatives and winning. People who have voted conservatives all their lives are repulsed by Boris Johnson’s lies and have had enough.

Dowden turns his back on Johnson

Labor leader Keir Starmer in Wakefield also called on the dissolving Conservatives to clear the way for a Labor government. In a vote of no confidence in the lower house in early June, when 41 percent of his group wanted to oust the Conservative Party leader Johnson over his leadership and a scandal surrounding locked parties at the government headquarters, Secretary-General Dowden was still loyal to him.

But after these election results, someone must now take responsibility, Dowden wrote. Under these circumstances, he could no longer remain in office. Many Conservative supporters are “desperate and disappointed” – and he understands.

Oliver Dowden has done parties for Johnson in the past. He gave it up now.

Image: REUTERS

Johnson is on his way and is relaxed

Conservative MP Geoffrey Clifton-Brown told the BBC that he feared he would also lose his seat in favor of the Liberal Democrats if he faced by-elections. The party really needs to think about whether it’s still possible to win the election with Johnson: “We in the parliamentary group now have to decide whether the prime minister can adequately explain this defeat, or whether we need to look for a new prime minister.”

But it will take some time before Johnson has to answer questions from the parliamentary group. The Prime Minister is currently attending the Commonwealth Summit in Rwanda, followed by a G7 meeting in Germany and then a NATO summit in Spain.

Johnson had previously ruled out resignation in the event of an election defeat. In the Rwandan capital, Kigali, he responded calmly to the results:

It has always been the case since the war that the governing parties lost in the mid-term elections. But people are afraid of the cost of living crisis, and we will listen to the electorate and continue until we cross this valley.

More than the famous medium-term blues?

However, opinion poll and election expert John Curtice of Strathclyde University in Glasgow reads not only the famous medium blues between two parliamentary elections. In Devon in particular, Labor voters have turned to the Liberal Democrats to prevent the Conservatives from winning at all costs.

And that could be dangerous for conservatives. Their problem is not just that they generally have a very low rating of 33 percent, says Curtice. The election expert believes that in the parliamentary elections, voters can come together and vote for the party that is most likely to beat the Conservatives. “And that’s exactly what happened to Conservative Prime Minister John Major in 1997, when he lost the election because of this tactical behavior of voters.”

Lib-Dems seem to be getting rid of their bad reputation

Already earlier this year, the Liberal Democrats won by-elections in Chesham, Amersham and North Shropshire, occupying conservative strongholds in both. While the party has been considered “toxic” by the Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron for a while, the alternative to the candidate again appears to be liberals who are still clearly against Brexit.

And the Labor election victory in Wakefield is a sign that the Labor Party could succeed in taking the so-called red wall Conquered what were in fact Labor strongholds, and won in 2019 with the help of Johnson.

The panicked withdrawal of Secretary-General Dowden, who had previously been loyal to Johnson in the early morning hours and emphasized his loyalty to the Conservative Party in his letter, is a clear signal that Johnson is losing increasing support.

Heavy defeat for Boris Johnson in the by-elections

Gabi Biesinger, ARD London, 24.6.2022 13:16

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