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Brecon by-election: Tories lash out at Remainer’s ‘dirty backroom deal’ as Boris loses first election test and majority slashed

TORIES blasted Remainers for stitching them up with a “dirty backroom deal” today as the Liberal Democrats won the Brecon by-election this morning.

A 12 per cent swing saw Jane Dodds romp to victory in the Welsh seat – a huge blow for Boris whose majority has now been slashed to just one.

Brecon by-election results: Jubilant Lib Dems celebrate the victory in the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election – ousting the Tory incumbent
PA:Press Association
Ms Dodds arriving at the count at at the Royal Welsh Showground, Llanelwedd. She won by more than 1,400 votes
PA:Press Association
Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson (middle) celebrating with new MP Jane Dodds (left) and Welsh Lib Dem leader Kirsty Williams (right) today
Reuters

She secured 43.46 per cent of the vote in Brecon and Radnorshire – ahead of disgraced Tory MP Chris Davies on 38.98 per cent.

But Tory Chairman James Cleverly told the BBC this morning: “The Lib Dems with their dirty backroom deal, with Plaid and the Greens and others, threw the kitchen sink at this and got a narrow win.

“That is disappointing.”

He told the BBC the Lib Dems had “scraped a win” and the Tory candidate was “very close to being elected”.

And he added in a plea to Brexiteers: “If you vote for the Brexit Party, you will make it harder [to deliver Brexit].”

After topping the poll by 1,425 votes, winner Ms Dodds said: “The people of this constituency have chosen hope over fear. We demand better.”

And encapsulating the threat to Brexit her victory poses, Ms Dodds added that her first act as an MP will be to demand a “no-deal” exit is ruled out.

She said: “People are desperately crying out for a different kind of politics.

“There is no time for tribalism when our country is faced with a Boris Johnson government and the threat of a no-deal Brexit.

“So my very first act as your MP 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’.”

Lib Dem sources said this morning: “It’s a simple rule of politics – if you stop listening, you lose touch and get punished.

“No doubt there is more of that to come.”

FIDDLING EXPENSES

The by-election was called following the sacking of Mr Davies, 51, last month after more than 10,000 voters signed a recall petition.

He had been convicted of submitting a false expenses claim – but was still chosen to fight to reclaim his seat by his local party.

There were hopes that the “Boris bounce” in the polls could save the Tories from losing the Leave-voting mid-Wales constituency.

But the defeat in Boris’ first election test – only 11 days after he took office, a record for a new PM – will be a headache for Number 10.

SLIMMEST MAJORITY

The Tories now only have a majority of one – creating a fatal threat to PM Boris’ Brexit plan as it is steered through parliament.

On his visit to Wales on Tuesday, Boris Johnson had warned: “A vote for any party other than Conservatives pushes the Liberal Democrats one step closer to cancelling the referendum result.”

Now, just one MP deciding to abandon the party and join the Opposition could completely scupper efforts to deliver Brexit by October 31.

Boris is also heavily reliant on the 10 votes of the Conservatives’ Northern Irish allies, the DUP, too.

With the DUP’s votes counted, the PM now has the support of 319 MPs – while opposition parties have 318.

Brecon by-election results: Conservative MP Chris Davies looks dejected as he loses his seat – and cuts his party’s parliamentary majority to the slimmest margin
Reuters

AFP

Brecon by-election results: Ms Dodds’ victory is a threat to Brexit as the Tories’ majority is slashed to just one MP[/caption]

AP:Associated Press

Brecon by-election results: PM Boris Johnson now has a majority of just one following the by-election setback[/caption]

Brecon by-election results: Jane Dodds said her first act as an MP would be to demand ‘no-deal’ Brexit is ruled out
Reuters

LABOUR HUMILIATED

It was also a humiliating defeat for Labour – who narrowly avoided losing their deposit.

Candidate Tom Davies limped behind in a dismal fourth place with just 5.3 per cent – beating only the Monster Raving Loony Party and UKIP.

Support for Jeremy Corbyn‘s party collapsed by 12.5 per cent – with Labour voters swarming to the Lib Dems and Brexit Party, who came third.

UKIP were pummelled into last place with just 242 votes – even losing out to the fifth-place Monster Raving Loony Party.

HIGH TURNOUT

Turnout was at 59.7 per cent – the highest for a by-election in 22 years since Winchester in November 1997.

Ms Dodds – the party’s leader in Wales – had been the bookies’ favourite going into the vote.

She was helped by a pact with Plaid Cymru and the Green Party who decided not to contest the seat as part of a pro-Remain alliance.

Following the by-election result, newly-elected Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson said: “Boris Johnson’s shrinking majority makes it clear that he has no mandate to crash us out of the EU.”

She added:  “Voters don’t have to settle for Boris Johnson or Jeremy Corbyn – there is another positive alternative.”

‘DIRTY CAMPAIGN’

Conservative candidate Mr Davies said his party had run a “clean and positive” campaign, adding: “Sadly, a few of our competitors have led a dirty campaign.”

Ms Dodds said earlier her priorities are to stand up for Welsh farmers and oppose Tory cuts.

She added: “This by-election is, therefore, a choice between change with the Liberal Democrats or the same old broken politics with the Tories.”

The recall petition was triggered after Mr Davies was convicted in March for submitting two false expenses invoices.

They were nine photographs costing £700 to decorate his new office.

Tory MP threatens to wipe out Boris majority completely by defecting to Lib Dems

A TORY MP is threatening to completely wipe out Boris Johnson’s majority in Parliament by considering switching parties.

Phillip Lee, a Remainer Tory who wants a second referendum, said he’d be thinking hard about his political future over the summer break.

Last night Boris lost one of his Tory MPs as the Lib Dems won the Brecon and Radnorshire seat in Wales, slashing his majority down.

Mr Lee told a political podcast this week:

“The party I joined was the party of John Major and John Major, I think, is probably feeling like this judging by his contributions in recent weeks,’ he said.

“I’m really not comfortable about my party pushing for no-deal Brexit without proper consent of the public.

“Purely on the national interest, I think it’s wrong to do this. But party politically I think it’s narrowing our base in a way that I don’t see how we win elections.

“I’m sort of sitting here, looking on and – yeah – I’m going to spend the summer thinking a lot.”

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He was fined £1,500, ordered to pay £2,500 towards legal costs and told to carry out 50 hours of community service.

But Mr Davies was later selected again by the Conservative Party – who wanted to portray his expenses rap as an honest mistake.

He had represented the seat for the Conservatives since 2015 – and his majority in 2017 was 8,038.

PA:Press Association

Labour candidate Tom Davies came in a dismal fourth place as voters abandoned Jeremy Corbyn’s party[/caption]

Reuters

Votes being counted in the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election at the Royal Welsh Showground, Llanelwedd[/caption]

Getty Images – Getty

Brexit Party candidate Des Parkinson, centre, during the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election count. The Brexit Party came in third[/caption]

The Official Monster Raving Loony Party candidate Lady Lily The Pink, right, entering the counting hall before her party’s fifth place finish – beating UKIP
Getty Images – Getty

 

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TORIES blasted Remainers for stitching them up with a “dirty backroom deal” today as the Liberal Democrats won the Brecon by-election this morning. A 12 per cent swing saw Jane Dodds romp to victory in the Welsh seat – a huge blow for Boris whose majority has now been slashed to just one. She secured […]Read More

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