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No 'Boris bounce' as Tories lose key by-election with parliamentary majority cut to just one MP

A previously safe seat, the Conservatives lost out to the Liberal Democrats in Brecon and Radnorshire.

Liberal Democrats Jane Dodds celebrates with supporters
Liberal Democrats Jane Dodds celebrates with supporters
Image: Ben Birchall/PA Images

THE MAJORITY THAT Boris Johnson’s government has in the House of Commons has been cut to just one MP, after the Conservative Party lost out in a Welsh by-election yesterday. 

Previously a safe Tory seat, the Conservatives lost out to the pro-EU and pro-remain Liberal Democrats in the farming community of Brecon and Radnorshire.

Prime Minister Johnson dropped by the region on Tuesday to help out Chris Davies – a Conservative MP who was forced to step down after becoming embroiled in an expenses scandal.

Davies protested his innocence and contested the seat again but the Liberal Democrats’ Jane Dodds received 13,826 votes to Davies’ 12,401, after having two smaller pro-EU parties back her bid.

The vote continues the recent Lib Dem surge, after they polled well in the recent European elections. Nigel Farage’s Brexit party picked up 3,331 votes while Labour came a distant fourth with just 1,680. 

“My very first act as MP when I arrive in Westminster will be to find Boris Johnson wherever he is hiding and tell him loud and clear – stop playing with the futures of our communities and rule out no-deal Brexit,” a visibly relieved Dodds said.

No ‘Boris bounce’

The election was viewed as a test of strength for the “Boris bounce” that has helped the Conservatives regain a slim lead in some national opinion polls.

Brecon and Radnorshire had voted 52-48 in favour of leaving the EU in the 2016 referendum, mirroring the overall UK result.

However, the controversy surrounding the candidate and subsequent loss leaves Johnson in danger of being unable to control parliament in the crucial runup to Britain’s scheduled departure from the EU on 31 October.

Fears of a no-deal Brexit have already pushed the pound to its lowest levels since Britons first voted to leave in June 2016.

The Bank of England warned yesterday that a messy split would drop the pound even further and slow growth this year and next to 1.3% from around 1.5%.

Chancellor Sajid Javid announced on Wednesday an extra £2.1 billion (€2.3 billion) to prepare for leaving without an agreement.

Politico reported that part of the money would be spent on a Europe-wide media blitz that included adverts in major continental newspapers aimed at convincing EU governments about the strength of Britain’s no-deal resolve.

Some analysts questioned how much of the funding was new and whether it would actually be used in the 90 days remaining before Brexit.

“We have to be prepared because we will be leaving on 31 October,” Javid said yesterday.

The main opposition Labour Party’s finance spokesman John McDonnell branded the funding an “appalling waste of taxpayers’ cash”.

The Labour MP who heads parliament’s spending watchdog also pledged to investigate how the money was being spent.

With reporting from AFP

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Sean Murray

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