Johnson may walk away shorn of two English by-elections


By-elections to fill vacant seats in Britain are often a relatively innocuous way of punishing the government, of hitting it on the head without knocking it out. Sometimes they are a serious warning of their unpopularity, which is later confirmed in general ones. But on other occasions the voters let off steam, and when the time comes their anger has passed and they return to support them.

Still, John Major was the last Prime Minister, back in the 1990s, to lose two of these elections on the same day, and Boris Johnson – who is trying to get back on his feet after being stumbled from the no-confidence motion put forward by his own parliamentary group – does not want to suffer the same fate when the results of yesterday’s elections in Wakefield (Yorkshire) and Tiverton and Honiton (Devon County) are announced.

The results will give an indication of the prime minister’s ability to make it to the next election

The results are going to be fairly representative of popular sentiment toward Johnson after the partygate . The first town is part of the so-called red wall, the old Labor bastions of the English north that lent their vote in 2019 to Johnson to make Brexit a reality, reduce immigration and combat the inequality of wealth and infrastructure between the northern regions. and southern. While the second is on the blue wall, a lifelong Tory who is suspicious of the economic policies and social aid of Downing Street.

The polls predict that Labor will easily recover Wakefield, and that the Liberal Democrats threaten to cause a historic upset in Tiverton, where Johnson won by a landslide two and a half years ago. Everything will depend on the tactical vote, that is, on whether the usual Labor supporters strategically support the libdems If only to punish the Conservatives and make them lose a seat they consider theirs in their own right.

The prime minister would be in for a treat if he loses Wakefield and wins Devon. But if he is beaten in two such different constituencies, one traditionally working class and the other Tory to the core, many MPs could interpret his magic as completely gone, he is not capable of winning the 2024 election and they would have a better chance with another Leader. His position would be in danger again, if not imminently, then in the medium term.

For Labour, the margin by which it wins in Wakefield is important (if the polls are not wrong as they did with Brexit and JohnSon’s absolute majority). Its leader, Keir Starmer, has numerous internal enemies due to her lack of charisma and allergy to speaking out on any controversial issue, which means that the main opposition party is not identified with any specific policy. The issue of Brexit says that it is “closed”, and that if it came to power it would not consider re-entry into the European Union, and not even incorporation into the single market and recovery of freedom of movement. And about the strikes that this week have paralyzed the country, he does not condemn them so as not to offend the unions, but says that they are “a bad idea” to appear like a moderate centrist.

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