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Johnson loses first test of his premiership

August 2, 2019

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Conservatives are now down to a one-seat majority. The results of a Welsh by-election will make life difficult for Johnson.

Boris Johnson
Image: picture-alliance/empics/B. Lawless

Britain's pro-EU Liberal Democrats won a parliamentary by-election in Brecon and Radnorshire on Thursday, dealing a blow to  Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Jane Dodds, the Welsh Liberal Democrats leader, won by 1,425 votes over Conservative incumbent Chris Davies. 

The loss in rural South Wales means Johnson's Conservative party now holds a narrow one-seat majority in the House of Commons, with just 320 out of 639 lawmakers in Parliament.

The result will make it more difficult for the government to pass legislation and leaves it vulnerable to a vote of no-confidence that might trigger a general election.

It also puts Johnson's plan to leave the European Union on October 31 with or without a deal under strain.

After the results were announced, Dodds said: "My very first act as your new MP when I get to Westminster will be to find Mr. Boris Johnson, wherever he's hiding, and tell him to stop playing with the future of our community and rule out a no-deal Brexit." 

Read more: Outgoing MEP: Don't blame lack of solidarity on Brussels

Jo Swinson, Liberal Democrat leader
Jo Swinson's party, the Liberal Democrats, have won the by-electionImage: picture-alliance/J. Ng

Why did the election happen?

Officials called the by-election after it was revealed that Davies had claimed false expenses. The Conservative said it was an honest mistake.

In June, around 19% of local voters asked him to give up his seat in a "recall petition," which is issued if a member of Parliament is convicted of a crime. If over 10% of voters sign, a by-election is called.

Read more: Opinion: Theresa May's toxic Brexit legacy


cw, jns/cmk (AFP, Reuters)

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