British Prime Minister Johnson’s ‘waning popularity’ amid tough by-elections
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson could lose two parliamentary seats this week that once exemplified his broad appeal, showing his declining popularity that could prompt his party to try to find a way to oust him.
His Conservative party is contesting two by-elections on Thursday: one in Tiverton and Honiton, a deeply conservative corner of Devon in south-west England, and another in the former industrial area of Wakefield in northern England, who voted for his party for the first time. in 90 years in 2019.
A defeat in either place could further damage Johnson’s reputation for election winning and see lawmakers who fear for their future try to oppose him despite a reprieve by calling and losing a vote. confidence against him earlier this month.
Johnson secured the biggest Tory majority in three decades in the 2019 national election by shaking up conventional British politics and winning both in the traditional Tory heartland of the South and in more industrial areas of central and northern Britain. ‘England.
But now support for the party is fraying in both areas and could prompt some Tory lawmakers to try to cut the 12-month grace period between calls for confidence votes. Some 41% of Johnson’s lawmakers voted to impeach him this month.
The by-elections were triggered by high-profile resignations by Tory lawmakers – one who admitted watching pornography in parliament and another convicted of sexually abusing a teenager.
In the rural market town of Tiverton, Jenny Kane, 72, a part-time yoga teacher, said she had voted Conservative but would not now due to unresolved tensions with the European Union and of “partygate” when Johnson attended lockdown-breaking parties during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I don’t think he did Brexit at all,” she told Reuters. “Partygate is the straw that broke the camel’s back. I’m disgusted.” Kane said she would vote for the pro-EU centrist Liberal Democrats instead.
Reuters spoke to at least 30 people in both locations asking them the same questions about policy areas. While voters in Devon focused on ‘partygate’, the government’s deportation policy from Rwanda and Brexit, they focused more on the cost of living crisis in Wakefield.
Tiverton has voted Conservative in every election for nearly a century, and in 2019 the party won a majority of nearly 25,000 votes.
“I would have voted Conservative if it hadn’t been for the immigration flight situation to Rwanda. It’s made a huge difference for me and my husband,” said Lizzie Bowman, 58, describing it as “unacceptable behavior”.
Several Tiverton voters who had voted for the Tories indicated they were unlikely to even vote, while those who opposed the Tories tactically voted for the option most likely to remove them.
Although there are few reliable polls in Tiverton and Wakefield, bookmakers say the Tories stand to lose both seats.
In Wakefield, a town about a four-hour drive north of London, voters said the government needed to do more to help people cope with the highest inflation in three decades.
Barbara Lawson, a 54-year-old shopkeeper who voted Conservative in 2019 but could now vote for the main opposition Labour, said she did not fully understand the government on Brexit or the strategy deportation from Rwanda.
Lawson said the rising cost of living meant her daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter were cutting back on food expenses and struggling to move from their two-bedroom apartment to somewhere bigger despite both parents were working full time.
Lawson said she knows people who have started using food banks and friends who are worried about having to stop using their cars due to rising gas prices.
“People’s concerns here are very daily,” she said. “Even people with good jobs are suffering right now.”
But one aspect that works in Johnson’s favor may be a near-unanimous lack of enthusiasm for Labor leader Keir Starmer.
Geoff Hook, 57, who works in arts education, said he recently resigned his Labor Party membership after nearly four decades because he felt he no longer understood what it meant.
“Labour seems to lack direction at the moment,” he said. “Starmer doesn’t seem to have a lot of personality, so he has a hard time connecting with people.”