Third Tory by-election looms as ally of Boris Johnson resigns

A third by-election has been triggered for the Tories as Nigel Adams, an ally of Boris Johnson, announced his resignation, adding to the political challenges faced by Rishi Sunak. Adams did not provide a reason for his immediate departure, which followed the resignations of Boris Johnson and Nadine Dorries earlier on Friday.

In a statement, Johnson criticised a Partygate report investigating whether he intentionally misled Parliament, labelling it a “witch hunt.” Labour referred to him as a “coward.” Adams, who served as a Cabinet Office minister without portfolio under Johnson’s government, had previously stated that he would not stand in the next general election but has now brought that decision forward. The MP for Selby and Ainsty revealed that his local Conservative Association had selected a new parliamentary candidate on Friday.

By-elections drain resources and attention that the party would prefer to allocate to governance and the general election. The BBC has made numerous calls and exchanged hundreds of WhatsApp messages since Johnson announced his resignation on Friday evening. It is evident that there is widespread anger, if not surprise, at how Johnson and his allies have criticised the Commons Privileges Committee and its members’ integrity.

In a 1,000-word statement, Johnson announced his resignation as MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip late on Friday evening. The committee was reportedly preparing to recommend a 10-day suspension for Johnson from the Commons, which would have resulted in a recall petition among his constituents and a possible by-election. Johnson claimed that the draft report he had seen was “riddled with inaccuracies and reeks of prejudice.”

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The committee is scheduled to meet on Monday to finalise its conclusions and is expected to publish its findings shortly after, likely on Tuesday or Wednesday. Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader, accused the former prime minister of having “jumped” and labelled him a “coward” on BBC Radio 5 Live. Sir Chris Bryant, the Labour chairman of the Privileges Committee, stated that Johnson’s statement could potentially lead to further contempt of Parliament charges since the report’s conclusion should not be disclosed before its publication, and Johnson had “effectively leaked” it.

Priti Patel, the former home secretary who was made a Dame in Johnson’s resignation honours list, praised the former prime minister, calling him a “political titan.” Sir Michael Fabricant, another sitting MP announced in the resignation honours list, criticised the Privileges Committee for what he termed its “disgraceful treatment” of the former prime minister. No statement has been issued by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak or any members of the Privileges Committee.

The surprise exit of Johnson was preceded by that of Nadine Dorries, who announced her resignation as MP of Mid Bedfordshire. The Conservatives currently have a working majority of 64 (prior to the resignations of Johnson and Dorries), which is less than the 80-seat majority they held when Johnson led the party to a landslide general election victory in 2019.

In other news, Bill Cash, Conservative MP for Stone in Staffordshire, announced on Saturday evening that he would not stand in the next general election. He was first elected in 1984. Conservative backbencher Sir John Redwood urged Rishi Sunak to issue a statement “urgently reassuring those who were very strong Boris fans and strong Liz [Truss] fans that his party is for all Conservatives.”

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Jamie Cartwright

Jamie is a keen traveler, writer, and (English) teacher. A few years after finishing school in the East Mids, UK, he went traveling around South America and Asia. Several teaching and writing jobs, he found himself at The Thaiger where he mostly covers international news and events.

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