Boris Johnson, the British Prime Minister, suffered an embarrassing defeat in a parliamentary by-election on the outskirts of London, just a few miles from his own constituency.
The Conservatives have comfortably held the lush, affluent Chesham and Amersham constituency since its inception in 1974, gaining more than 50% of the vote on every occasion.
In a stunning change of events, the Liberal Democrats’ candidate – a centrist, pro-EU party – earned a majority of 8,028 votes over the Conservative candidate in results revealed on Friday morning.
“It’s frustrating and upsetting,” junior interior minister Kit Malthouse said when asked about the large swing.
He told Sky News, “We would have hoped for better outcomes.”
Johnson credited Brexit in part to the Conservative Party’s recent victory in Hartlepool, a stronghold of Britain’s opposition Labor Party in north-east England.
Some have claimed, however, that Johnson’s approach, which is luring traditional Labor voters in northern England, has alienated some of Johnson’s supporters in Conservative strongholds.
Johnson’s parliamentary constituency in West London is about ten miles distant
Plans to build the new High Speed 2 rail link between London and northern England, which passes through the area, have enraged residents in Chesham and Amersham, as have government intentions to overhaul planning laws, which critics worry would lead to increased development in southern England.
Cheryl Gillan, who had held the Chesham and Amersham constituency for Johnson’s Conservatives since 1992, died in April, prompting the election. Gillan received 16,223 votes in the most recent election in 2019.