The UK ruling Conservative Party suffered a crushing defeat in one constituency but escaped defeat in others after the results came out early Friday morning. Three By-Electionsan important test of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s popularity.
The small centrist Liberal Democrats won one of the Conservatives’ safest seats in Somerton and Frome in the South West of England, a major victory overthrowing the Conservative majority, with 21,187 Liberal Democrats and 10,790 Conservatives.
But Uxbridge and South Ruislip, on the northwest edge of London, have good news for Mr. Sunak. The party had narrowly beaten the district’s main opposition Labor Party, which was led by former prime minister Boris Johnson.
A third contest, to be held at Selby and Ainsty in Yorkshire in the north of England, had yet to be decided.
For Sunak, the by-election was a disturbing precursor to a general election that must be called by January 2025. His Conservative Party faces a real threat of being ousted from power for the first time in 14 years, as Britain is plagued by high inflation, economic stagnation and growing labor unrest.
The UK shares some of these economic woes with others in the wake of the pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but the Conservative Party has compounded the problem with policy missteps and political turmoil that peaked during the short and stormy tenure of Mr Sunak’s predecessor, Liz Truss.
She proposed drastic but unfunded tax cuts. alarmed the financial markets And 44 days after taking office, he caused his downfall. Sunak shelved Truss’ trickle-down policy and restored stability to Britain’s finances. But her legacy has been a poison cup for her Conservative compatriots for Mr Sunak and many of the British voters.
“The Liz Truss case has severely damaged their reputation as to their financial prowess, which will be very difficult to recover,” said Tim Bale, professor of political science at Queen Mary University in London. “It’s going to be very difficult.”
Labor’s lead in the polls was so convincing that some analysts had predicted Mr Sunak would become the first prime minister since 1968 to lose three so-called by-elections in a single day.
However, narrow Conservative victories in Uxbridge and South Ruislip sidestepped that prospect.When all the votes were counted the final tally was he had 13,965 votes Conservative Steve Tuckwell received $13,470 and Labor’s Danny Beals $13,470.
By-elections are held when a seat in the House becomes vacant during a general election. The contest was also a reminder of the toxic legacy of Mr. Johnson, another of Mr. Sunak’s predecessors.
Mr Johnson resigned his seat It took place in the western extremities of Uxbridge and South Ruislip in London after MPs ruled that he lied to parliament over a lockdown party held in Downing Street during the pandemic.
Voters in Selby and Ainsty in the north of England had elected a successor to the House of Lords, as one of Mr Johnson’s closest allies, Nigel Adams, had predicted, after he resigned.
The third election was held in rural Somerton and Frome, in the southwest of England, when another Conservative MP, David Warburton, renounced his seat after admitting to taking cocaine.
“This is probably the end of a chapter in the history of Boris Johnson’s impact on British politics,” said pollster and Conservative MP Robert Hayward. However, he added, “Whether or not it concludes the whole book is another matter.”
Voting took place in very different parts of England, giving an unusual snapshot of public opinion ahead of the general election. It also captured some of the trends that have permeated British politics since the last general election in 2019, when Mr Johnson’s Conservative Party won a landslide victory.
Uxbridge and South Ruislip are the seats Labour needs to win to prove it’s definitely on its way to power. Mr Johnson’s political troubles have weakened the Conservatives, but their fortunes have been preserved by public outrage against London Mayor Sadiq Khan (Labor) over plans to expand costly ultra-low emission zones across London, including Uxbridge.
In Conservative strongholds Selby and Ainsty, Labor hoped to show that their once-dominant party had regained the confidence of voters in northern and central England, who lost to the Conservatives in the 2019 general election.
The votes in Somerton and Frome tested the fate of the Conservative Party in the heart of southern England, known as the ‘Blue Wall’, after the party’s campaign colors. The region is under pressure from the resurgence of the small, centrist Liberal Democrats.
The Liberal Democrats have benefited from some anti-Conservative voters strategically voting for who they think would be best to beat the Conservative candidate.
Recent UK elections have been the subject of a major political restructuring, with candidates emphasizing values and cultural issues. But analysts said the by-election was dominated by a cost-of-living crisis, a costly dining concern for the Conservatives, who have been in power for more than a decade.
https://www.nytimes.com/2023/07/20/world/europe/uk-elections-sunak-conservatives.html UK by-elections: Conservative wins and losses so far