In Tiverton and Honiton, the Liberal Democrats overturned a majority of 24,000 Tories to win, while Labor scooped Wakefield.
Speaking from Kigali, where the Prime Minister is attending a Commonwealth leaders’ summit, Mr Johnson said: ‘It is absolutely true that we have had some difficult by-election results, they have been, I think, the reflection of a lot of things , but we have to recognize that voters are going through a difficult time right now. We have to recognize that we have to do more and we will certainly continue, we will continue to address people’s concerns until we have been through this patch.”
Mr Dowden said in a resignation letter to Mr Johnson that the defeats at Tiverton, Honiton and Wakefield are the ‘latest in a series of very bad results for our party’.
Lord Frost: By-election results ‘terrible’ for Tories but not particularly good for Liberal Democrats or Labor
Former Brexit minister Lord Frost said the results of both by-elections were “terrible for the Tories”.
But he added: ‘None are particularly good for the Lib Dems or Labour.’
Writing on Twitter, he said: “In Tiverton there was a Lab/Lib shift but their total vote as a share of the whole *electorate* only went from 25% to 29%.The Conservative vote fell from 43% to just under 20%.Almost 20,000 of our voters stayed home.That’s why we lost.
“At Wakefield, turnout was extremely low. The Lab/Lib vote actually dropped from 28% to 20%. But the Conservative vote fell further, from 30% to 12%. That’s why we lost.
Lord Frost added: “So unlike many ‘normal’ mid-term by-elections, these do not show strong protest votes for the opposition. They show people who voted for us in 2019 refusing to come out and do it again. As Conservatives, we have to decide why this is so and what we are doing about it. »
He was the UK’s lead negotiator in Brexit talks with the EU.
Watch: Prime Minister reacts to by-election losses and Oliver Dowden’s resignation
Conservative MP: the Prime Minister has “tarnished the reputation” of the party
Veteran Tory MP Sir Roger Gale says Boris Johnson has ‘tarnished’ the reputation of the Conservative Party.
He said the prime minister was choosing to ‘hang on to the doorknob of No 10’ but ‘it can’t last forever and it certainly won’t last until the next general election’.
Asked if he saw Oliver Dowden’s resignation as a trigger for more expressions of displeasure from the Cabinet, he told TAUT Breakfast: ‘It’s possible it will happen, but it’s It is up to my Cabinet colleagues to decide if they can continue to support a Prime Minister who, quite frankly, has trashed the reputation of the Conservative Party, my party, for honesty, decency, integrity and compassion.
Sir Roger said the Tories were “spoiled for choice” for new leaders.
When asked who he would like to see in Mr Johnson’s place, he replied: ‘I don’t play that game. The media has said time and again that the problem is that there is no obvious alternative.
“The problem is that, in fact, we are spoiled for choice. There are several people who would make very good prime ministers within the party and one of them will emerge by the next general election and lead us to the next general election, which I hope we win.
PM reflects on Covid and cost of living crisis after by-election losses
Boris Johnson has sought to deflect attention from by-election defeats to his leadership.
He told broadcasters in Rwanda: “That may be your point of view. I think what governments also need to recognize is that I don’t want to minimize the importance of what voters are saying, but it’s also true that in the medium term, the government, post-war, loses the partial elections.
“I think if you look back to last May, the really amazing thing is that we managed to win Hartlepool under very different circumstances.
“What we need to do now is think about where the voters are, and what they basically feel is that we got through Covid well and made a lot of good decisions there. But we face cost of living pressures.
“We are seeing spikes in fuel prices, energy costs, food costs, which are hitting people. We need to recognize that there is more we need to do and we certainly will, we will continue to address people’s concerns until we get through this patch.
Lord Barwell: Tiverton and Honiton result ‘catastrophic’ for Tories
Tory peer Lord Barwell, who was Theresa May’s chief of staff in Number 10, said the Tiverton and Honiton result was “catastrophic” for the Conservative Party.
He told Sky News: ‘It’s one of the safest Tory seats in the country. This is a strongly pro-Leave constituency.
“So for the Liberal Democrats to win there, and to win comfortably, that means there’s a whole swath of seats in the south of the country that are vulnerable.”
Four Tory MPs show support for Oliver Dowden
A fourth Tory MP has backed Oliver Dowden after he resigned as party chairman following two by-election defeats.
Andrew Bowie, MP for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine, tweeted: “Really sorry to see Oliver stepping down as @Conservatives chair this morning. A completely honest man.
Earlier, Simon Hoare, Chairman of the Northern Ireland Commons Committee, tweeted: ‘An honorable letter from an honorable man.
“@OliverDowden is not responsible for these results. Since 2015, I have always been proud to call Oliver a friend. Never more so than today.”
Guildford MP Angela Richardson said: ‘Oliver is a fantastic colleague and he is certainly not to blame for these results.
North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale tweeted: ‘Oliver Dowden is a decent and honorable man who has clearly decided he can no longer defend the indefensible.
All four criticized the prime minister.
Labor calls on PM to ‘take his fair share of responsibility’
The shadow transport secretary said it was ‘right’ that Conservative Party chairman Oliver Dowden had resigned, but said she hoped Prime Minister Boris Johnson ‘takes his fair share of responsibility’.
Louise Haigh told TAUT Breakfast: “I think that’s true, but I think, again, everyone seems to have to take responsibility and step down apart from the main man, and I would have hoped that Boris Johnson would take his fair share of responsibility for this devastating blow of those two by-election losses.
“But, knowing the measure of the man I know, I very much doubt he will.”
Sir Ed Davey: PM ‘must be kicked out’
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey said the result of the Tiverton and Honiton by-election shows that “Boris Johnson really needs to be kicked out”.
Speaking to LBC, he said: “We have just won the biggest by-election victory here in Devon.
“No majority this size has ever been overturned in a by-election, so I’m pretty awesome today.
“We are smiling here and the message from Tiverton and Honiton, the people here in Devon, is that Boris Johnson must go. I think they spoke on behalf of all the British people and it really is time for him to go.
He added that the country was “in chaos” under Mr Johnson’s leadership and the Tories appeared to have no plan.
The Liberal Democrats had run a “positive” campaign in the constituency with policies that had “energized” people as the current government faltered, he said.
“I think that speaks for the people – Boris Johnson really needs to be kicked out,” Sir Ed said.
Breaking: PM speaks for first time after Tories suffer two by-election defeats
Boris Johnson has said he will ‘listen’ to voters but ‘carry on’ after the Tories suffered a double by-election defeat.
He also thanked Oliver Dowden after his resignation as co-chairman of the Conservative Party.
Addressing broadcasters in Kigali, the Prime Minister: “It is absolutely true that we had difficult by-election results, they were, I think, a reflection of many things, but we must recognize that voters are going through a tough time right now.
“I think as a government I have to listen to what people are saying, especially the difficulties people are facing with the cost of living, which I think for most people is the number one issue. a.
“We are now facing cost of living pressures, we are seeing spikes in fuel prices, energy costs, food costs – it is hitting people.
“We have to recognize that we need to do more and we certainly will, we will continue to address people’s concerns until we get through this patch.”
Tory MP: Prime Minister should ‘reconsider his position’
Tory MP Sir Roger Gale has said Boris Johnson ‘should reconsider’.
He tweeted following the two by-election defeats: ‘Spin ’em how you like the by-election results in Tiverton & Honiton and Wakefield are another vote of no confidence in a Prime Minister who should honorably this morning reconsider his position.
“Congratulations to the Conservative candidates who deserved better. The soul of our Party is at stake.
He also defended Oliver Dowden after his resignation as party chairman, calling him “a decent and honorable man who has clearly decided he can no longer defend the indefensible”.