Boris Johnson’s Majority Cut to One Vote As Pro-European Party Wins Seat

By Jane Werrell

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson suffered his first major blow since taking the crown, as the Conservative Party was defeated in a by-election—reducing the party’s majority to one.

In a speech after winning the seat, newly elected Liberal Democrat lawmaker Jane Dodds said the people had voted for “hope over fear.”

“My very first act as your 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 a no-deal Brexit now,'” she said.

It means that 319 lawmakers, including the small Northern Irish Party the DUP, support him. Lawmakers in opposition parties number 318.

The constituency, Brecon and Radnorshire in Wales, voted to leave the European Union during the 2016 referendum.

By-elections happen when a seat becomes vacant between general elections. It can happen when a lawmaker resigns or dies, is declared bankrupt, is unable to carry out their duties due to illness, or is convicted of a serious criminal offense.

This by-election was triggered after Conservative lawmaker Chris Davies was unseated, after being convicted of a false expenses claim.

Davies was reelected and ran again, but his previous majority of over 8,000 votes was quashed by the Liberal Democrats, who won this time by a smaller margin of 1,425.

At the by-election, the Conservatives came second with 12,401 votes and Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party came third with 3,331 votes. It was a bad night for the main opposition Labour Party, who came fourth, with 1,680 votes. It’s seen by some as a resurgence for the pro-EU Liberal Democrats.

Boris Johnson, a leading figure during the 2016 pro-Brexit campaign, has pledged that Brexit will be delivered “do or die.” He came into power as UK Prime Minister on July 24.

Brexit was a theme throughout the term of his predecessor, Theresa May. Her Brexit deal was rejected three times and the deadline for leaving the EU was extended twice. Lawmakers were unable to come to a consensus.

During his first speech in Parliament as Prime Minister Johnson said, “Our mission is to deliver Brexit on the 31st of October for the purpose of uniting and re-energizing our great United Kingdom and making this country the greatest place on earth.”

Losing this seat is a blow for Johnson. Gaining support to pass any legislation in Parliament could be more challenging, as he relies on the DUP to prop up his party’s tiny majority. It may also bring up the odds of a snap election before Brexit is delivered.