Boris Johnson Has Lost His Magic; Ouster Of UK PM Looms
Has Boris Johnson lost his touch? That's the question the United Kingdom was asking itself on Friday morning after the governing Conservative party lost a parliamentary seat in a by-election that it had held for nearly 200 years, Luke McGee reported for CNN.
Photo Insert: Could UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson be sent packing on the train home from his post permanently after the flip of the North Shropshire seat?
The North Shropshire seat flipped from a 23,000 Conservative majority to a 6,000 Liberal Democrat win. In private, Johnson's lawmakers are talking seriously about how long he can carry on as UK Prime Minister.
They are worried this result shows voters are catching onto the idea of tactical voting and that Johnson's ability to lock down Brexit voters might have waned. The loss comes in the same week that Johnson's own MPs openly defied him by voting against new COVID measures in parliament. Some 99 Conservatives defied the PM.
The election in North Shropshire, in central England, only took place because of a catastrophic own goal by the Prime Minister. Last month, Johnson whipped Conservative Members of Parliament to vote on an amendment that would overturn the 30-day suspension of their colleague Owen Paterson.
Johnson was criticized for failing to wear a mask on a visit to a hospital in Hexham, Northumbria, northern England, in November. Paterson had been found guilty of breaching lobbying rules, personally contacting ministers on behalf of companies that paid him an amount that totaled £100,000 ($136,000). After days of fury from people all over the political divide, Paterson resigned his North Shropshire seat.
Between Paterson's resignation and Thursday's by-election, Johnson has been drowning in scandals that have wrecked his poll numbers and posed serious questions about his leadership.
Johnson has spent the past two weeks fighting off allegations that he and his associates held illegal parties in Downing Street while the rest of the country was in varying degrees of lockdown. The Prime Minister has insisted that he believes no rules were broken.
Prior to that, he had been dogged by accusations that he accepted improper donations to fund a renovation, while his government has been accused of handing lucrative COVID contracts to people with links to the Conservative party.