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Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s authority is “running out”, a former Tory MP has said, following the ruling party’s loss of two by-elections.
“[Johnson’s] authority is very significantly reduced,” Gavin Barwell told Sky News on Friday. “The Conservative Party looked to Boris Johnson, because they saw him as an election winner, there is not…a deep love or affection for him among Tory MPs.
“What we see is a process of [Johnson’s] authority is running out,” he said.
In Tiverton and Honiton in Devon, Liberal Democrat Richard Foord overturned a Conservative majority of 24,239 votes and won local elections by 6,144 votes. The Conservatives have owned Tiverton and Honiton since its inception in 1997.
Elsewhere, Labor regained Wakefield after Simon Lightwood beat Tory rival Nadeem Ahmed by 4,925 votes.
“If the Conservative Party continues as it is. . . it’s sleepwalking to defeat next time [general] elections,” said Lord Barwell. “If the Conservative Party changes leaders and changes direction. . . if he does those two things, he could still win.
“Tiverton’s result is abysmal,” he added. “It’s one of the safest conservative seats in the country.”
Lord Barwell said Tiverton was a “strongly pro-leaving constituency” – a reference to the UK’s decision to leave the EU.
“So for the Liberal Democrats to win there — and win comfortably — that means there’s a whole swath of seats in the south of the country that are vulnerable,” he added.
Oliver Dowden was due to appear on Sky, but resigned as party chairman early on Friday.