British PM Boris Johnson suffers two crushing parliamentary by-election defeats, including in a southwest English seat previously held by his ruling Conservatives for over a century.

British Minister without Portfolio Oliver Dowden arrives on Downing Street, in London, Britain May 25, 2022.
British Minister without Portfolio Oliver Dowden arrives on Downing Street, in London, Britain May 25, 2022. (Reuters)

The chairman of Britain's ruling Conservatives quit after the party lost two parliamentary by-elections, including in a southwest English seat it had previously held for over a century.

"Yesterday's parliamentary by-elections are the latest in a run of very poor results for our party. Our supporters are distressed and disappointed by recent events, and I share their feelings," Oliver Dowden wrote in a resignation letter to Prime Minister and Tory leader Boris Johnson. 

"We cannot carry on with business as usual. Somebody must take responsibility and I have concluded that, in these circumstances, it would not be right for me to remain in office."

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson suffered two crushing parliamentary by-election defeats on Friday, including in a southwest English seat previously held by his ruling Conservatives for over a century, prompting the party's chairman to quit.

In a stunning reversal, the Tories saw their December 2019 general election majority of more than 24,000 votes overturned by the centrist Liberal Democrats in the Tiverton and Honiton constituency.

The disastrous outcomes for the Conservatives are set to pile new pressure on Prime MinisterJohnson, as the highly damaging "Partygate" scandal involving lockdown-breaching gatherings in Downing Street continues to plague him and his party.

Johnson dismissed as "crazy" the suggestion he might resign if he loses two parliamentary seats at elections on Thursday.

Staff count ballot papers for the Tiverton and Honiton by-election, at Lords Meadow Leisure Centre in Devon, Britain, June 23, 2022.
Staff count ballot papers for the Tiverton and Honiton by-election, at Lords Meadow Leisure Centre in Devon, Britain, June 23, 2022. (Reuters)

Tory's falling apart

The by-elections also follow months of scandals and setbacks that have severely dented the popularity of Johnson and his party, and come just weeks after he narrowly survived an attempt by his own lawmakers to oust him as Tory leader and prime minister.

The resignation comes after two former Tory MPs resigned in disgrace in recent months. Tiverton and Honiton's ex-lawmaker Neil Parish quit after admitting watching pornography on his phone in the House of Commons, while Wakefield's Imran Ahmad Khan was jailed for sexually assaulting a teenage boy.

Economic slowdown

Britain is face to face with a 40-year highs in inflation and a cost-of-living crisis that has seen prices soar for everyday essentials such as energy, petrol and food.

Strikes this week by railway workers -- including on election day Thursday -- were some of the biggest seen in Britain in decades and have added to the sense of crisis.

READ MORE: UK PM Johnson survives Tory MPs' no-confidence vote

Source: AFP