The results of this morning’s by-election suggest Johnson’s brand of conservatism has fallen out of favor with voters in Red Wall and traditional counties, writes the Mirror’s Jason Beattie
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There isn’t enough gloss on B&Q’s shelves to paint over how bad last night’s by-election was for the Tories.
The Conservatives had long been content to lose Wakefield but had hoped to stem the rise in Lib Dem in Tiverton & Honiton.
They ended up losing both seats by such an overwhelming margin that party leader Oliver Dowden quit rather than try to explain away the twin disasters in this morning’s media round.
Before the results were announced, Boris Johnson had dismissed the suggestion that they could have an impact on his time at Downing Street.
It would be “crazy” if he resigned, he told reporters accompanying him to the Commonwealth Summit.
Ian Vogler / Daily Mirror)
The Prime Minister’s view of mental health may well differ from that of Tory MPs who have noted there are 291 seats with smaller majorities than Tiverton & Honiton.
A year ago, Johnson brushed aside Chesham & Amersham’s by-election defeat at the hands of the Lib Dems because he could point to the Hartlepool result as proof of his enduring appeal.
This morning’s results suggest Johnson’s brand of conservatism has fallen out of favor with voters in Red Wall and traditional counties.
The coalition of convenience he cobbled together against the backdrop of Brexit and the unpopularity of Jeremy Corbyn is proving dangerously shaky.
What should worry the Tories most is that they have played every populist card in their pack, from Rwandan jail flights to Brexit war revivals to union bashing, without a noticeable effect on voters in two seats with an exit vote were.
These by-election results partly reflect disapproval of Johnson’s celebrations and lies, but they reflect much more public frustration at the state of the economy and declining public services.
In Devon, the main problems were the lack of NHS dentistry and the poor state of the local secondary school.
Tory MPs looking to oust Johnson will regret the fact that the confidence vote was called ahead of the results of the by-election as current rules mean no further vote can take place for 12 months.
This does not mean that he is necessarily safe.
In his gnomish resignation letter, Dowden specifically eschewed any praise for the prime minister and seemed to urge his peers to follow his lead, declaring, “We cannot carry on as usual.”
The timing couldn’t be worse for Johnson, who will be out of the country for seven days to attend Commonwealth, G7 and NATO summits.
An absent prime minister will find it harder to stiffen the spines of wavering colleagues who now fear the party is sleepwalking towards defeat in the general election.
He was able to survive the no-confidence vote because he convinced enough MPs he was still a tie at the ballot box.
What is he telling you now?
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/tories-now-fear-party-sleepwalking-27316270 "Tories now fear the party is headed for defeat in the general election" - Jason Beattie