Britain’s Johnson suffers first leadership blow in by-election

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London

Britain’s Boris Johnson lost his first test as prime minister on Friday after his candidate was edged out by a pro-EU rival in a by-election that slims his parliamentary majority to one.
Thursday’s vote in the Welsh sheep farming community of Brecon and Radnorshire offered a stark choice between a Brexit-backing candidate from Johnson’s Conservative party and a Liberal Democrat who wants to preserve Britain’s four-decade stay in the European Union.
Johnson dropped by the region on Tuesday to help out Chris Davies — a Conservative MP who was forced to step down after becoming embroiled in an expanses scandal. Davies protested his innocence and contested the seat again but the Liberal Democrats’ Jane Dodds received 13,826 votes to Davies’ 12,401 after having two smaller pro-EU parties back her bid.The result extends a recent revival for the Liberal Democrats at the major parties’ expense. Its firm stand against Britain’s split from the EU saw it come a surprise second behind populist eurosceptic Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party in the European Parliament elections in May.
Farage’s candidate ate into the Conservative’s support by picking up 3,331 votes. The main opposition Labour Party — once a dominant force in Wales — came in a distant fourth with just 1,680.
“My very first act as 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 no-deal Brexit,” a visibly relieved Dodds said.— AFP

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