Boris Johnson: a timeline of damnation and why the Wakefield and Tiverton and Honiton by-election results could be as much of a headache for Sir Keir Starmer and Labour as they are for the Prime Minister and the Conservatives

Within just two hours of the Conservatives losing Wakefield to Labour as well as Tiverton and Honiton to the Liberal Democrats - and in doing so relinquishing a 24,000 majority, the biggest EVER majority to be overturned at a parliamentary by-election - the Chairman of the party, Oliver Dowden, quit. In his letter of resignation Mr Dowden called upon someone to ‘take responsibility for’ what he described as the ‘distress and disappointment’ of Conservative Party supporters. A hat-trick of hammer blows for Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was 4,000 miles away in Rwanda when the biggest crisis to hit the Tory Government unfolded following two humiliating by-election results.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson was 4,000 miles away in Rwanda when the biggest crisis to hit the Tory Government unfolded following two humiliating by-election results.

Conversely, in his victory speech, the newly elected MP for Tiverton and Honiton - a corner of the country uncanny in its resemblance to rural North Yorkshire - Liberal Democrat Richard Foord sought to explain quite how he and his party had managed such an incredible turnaround. He said: “I can tell you that leadership means acting with decency and integrity. It means keeping your word. It means setting an example and putting other people’s needs before your own. And yet your behaviour, Mr Johnson, makes a mockery of leadership. By any measure, you are unfit to lead.” He goes on to say: “Thousands of lifelong Conservative voters are now appalled by Boris Johnson’s lies and fed up with being taken for granted.” Well, he would say that though, right?

The thrust of Mr Foord’s intended message was that the Liberal Democrats had envisioned a political proposition so compelling that the electorate nationwide is enchanted by his party which, 250 miles away in Wakefield, secured less than two per cent of the vote with 508 - 79 fewer than the Green Party and 12,658 fewer than the constituency winners. Now that, I think is key.

Look at it like this: that Tiverton and Honiton and Wakefield voted for different things suggests, at least in terms of party brands and reputation, not an electorate drawn to something compelling but an electorate united in its rejection of something else.

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Boris Johnson, a timeline of his time as Prime Minister:

August 2019: Boris Johnson prorogues Parliament in order to force through his ‘oven-ready’ Brexit deal. MPs condemn the prorogation as undemocratic. It is later deemed unlawful.

November 2020: Evidence has since emerged of Boris Johnson surrounded by revellers at multiple social gatherings which, at the time were illegal and such events around the country were being forcefully broken up by police officers, owing to the danger posed to life in the event Covid-19 was transmitted person to person. Mr Johnson is now the first ever sitting Prime Minister to be found to have broken the law. An investigation by senior civil servant Sue Gray stated: “The events investigated were attended by leaders in government. Many of these events should not have been allowed to happen. The senior leadership at the centre, both political and official, must bear responsibility for this culture.” That word again. Responsibility.

December 2020: When asked in Parliament about the illegal gatherings, Mr Johnson told the House: “All guidance was followed completely in Number 10.” He went on to add outside of the House: “all the evidence I can see is that people in that building have stayed within the rules.” They hadn’t, and he was there.

October 2021: Boris Johnson re-writes the parliamentary rules on standards in order to create a loophole for Owen Paterson to leap through in order to prevent himself being suspended from his role following an ‘egregious case of paid advocacy.’ Such was the horror at what Mr Johnson was trying to do in order to protect a colleague whose behaviour had fallen short of expectations that this was blocked and a screeching u-turn ensued.

December 2021: Boris Johnson’s Communications tsar Allegra Stratton quits, after footage emerged of her laughing and joking about the secret parties going on inside Downing Street, whilst tens of thousands were dying of Covid-19. She resigned in distress on her own doorstep in floods of tears on national television. Mr Johnson thanked her, without taking any responsibility for what had happened.

June 2022: The Prime Minister’s Ethics Advisor, Lord Geidt quits. At the time he felt there was a legitimate question over whether or not Mr Johnson broke ministerial rules - a resigning offence - with his antics at, and subsequent explanations of, what has now been dubbed Partygate. Mr Johnson later contemplates scrapping the ethics gatekeeping role altogether. Just to double check, that’s standards and ethics he wants rid of.

June 2022: The Prime Minister is taken by surprise when Royalist crowds gathered to pay thanks to Her Majesty The Queen at a St Paul’s Platinum Jubilee service spontaneously erupts into a chorus of boos and jeers at the arrival of Mr Johnson, hand-in-hand with his wife Carrie.

June 2022: Tory MPs force a vote of confidence in the Prime Minister. He lives to fight another day winning the vote 211 to 148 but, critically, 75 per cent of his own MPs not on his ministerial payroll said they had no confidence in his leadership.

June 24th, 2022: Conservative Party Chairman Oliver Dowden quits in the wake of humiliating by-election defeats in Wakefield and Tiverton and Honiton. The Prime Minister is 4,000 miles away but in a memo sent back home he vows to carry on.

THIS IS A SHORTENED VERSION OF THE EDITOR'S VIEW. THE FULL ARTICLE IS HERE PLEASE SUBSCRIBE TO HELP US DO WHAT WE DO ON YOUR BEHALF