Newly-elected MP Liberal Democrat Jane Dodds issued a stern warning for Boris Johnson after she won in the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election last night. The consequence of the vote being that Boris Johnson now only has a working majority of one in Parliament. With just eight days since he took office this was Johnson’s first electoral challenge and has resulted in the quickest by-election defeat for any new Prime Minister since the Second World War.
Jane Dodds who is the Lib Dem Leader for Wales spoke passionately about the people she represents:
‘The people of this constituency have once again chosen hope over fear. We demand better. Welsh farmers and small business owners facing a no deal Brexit demand better. Working families relying on food banks to feed their families demand better.
‘My very first act as your PM when I arrive in Westminster will be to find Mr Boris Johnson wherever he is hiding and tell him loud and clear; stop playing with the future of our communities and rule out a no deal Brexit now.’
With a turnout of 59.6% Dodds and her party took 13,826 votes beating Chris Davies of the Conservatives who received 12,401. Arguably controversial, Davies re-stood after previously being unseated by a petition that followed from his conviction for a false expense claim in the aftermath of the 2015 general election. The Labour Party was pushed into fourth place with a mere 1680 votes after being beaten into third place by the Brexit Party who took 3331.
Neither Plaid Cymru nor the Green Party had candidates standing, leading James Cleverly, Chairman of the Conservative Party to comment that the Lib Dems made a ‘dirty, backroom deal’ in order to maximise the pro-EU campaign. In what was a very close vote however between the top two, it is suggested that the win is not a resounding response for remain and is not as disappointing as it could have potentially been for the Tories or the Brexit Party. Professor Laura McAllister part of Cardiff University’s Wales Governance Centre noted that the three Brexit supporting parties had 2-3000 votes more than the Remain team.
‘There are always nuanced undercurrents to this. The reality is Brexit isn’t the only issue people were voting on. People were probably voting on rural and local issues. We can never categorically say this was about Brexit.’
It is highly unlikely that Mr Johnson will lose any sleep over last night’s results but he will now certainly have to rely heavily on the support of the Democratic Unionist Party as it is rumoured that five or more Tory MP’s have suggested they would vote against the government to stop a “no-deal” Brexit.
All is not doom and gloom however as the Conservative government have announced plans this week for up to ten ‘free ports’ to be opened post Brexit in a move that International Trade Secretary Liz Truss says will boost economic growth and create thousands of jobs.
‘Freedoms transformed London Docklands in the 1980’s, and free ports will do the same for towns and cities across the UK. They will join onshore enterprise and manufacturing as the gateway to our future prosperity.’