Boris Johnson at risk of more Tory defections following Lib Dem by-election win

Posted On: 
3rd August 2019

The Prime Minister has been warned that he may face resignations by Tory MPs following the party’s defeat in the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election.

Johnson's byelection defeat was the quickest defeat for any PM of the post-war period.

The Liberal Democrats' Jane Dodds overturned the previous Tory majority of over 8,000, taking the seat by a margin of 1,425 on Thursday.

Dr Phillip Lee, the former justice minister, told The Guardian that he would consider defecting to the Lib Dems or sitting as an independent.

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“I have things to think about over the summer, but it is not just me,” he said.

“There are a number of colleagues who are spending the summer reflecting on what is the right way for them to confront this no-deal scenario.

“Of course, it is difficult for all of us because we joined the Conservative party, but it has morphed into something a lot different to what I joined in 1992.”

Lee also suggested that Mr Johnson’s control over Parliament could be threatened by those at the centre of the party alienated by his right-wing cabinet.

“At the moment Boris Johnson has a very difficult pitch to play and that has been made even harder by the formation of this cabinet,” he said.

“There are increasingly people who think, ‘Even if my career is over, I can’t put my name to this.’

A former cabinet minister meanwhile told the paper that a number of seats were also at risk, including Cheltenham, Chippenham, Guildford and Surrey Heath.

Former attorney general Dominic Grieve has previously suggested he would resign the Tory whip if Johnson were elected leader, with other pro-EU MPs following suit.

The Brcon ballot was triggered when the seat’s former MP Chris Davies was ousted by a recall petition after he admitted submitting false invoices for expenses.

He chose to stand again for the seat and lost to Welsh Lib Dems leader Ms Dodds.

Ms Dodds’ victory cuts the Conservative’s working majority in Parliament to one, raising concerns that disgruntled MPs could leave the party.