Robert HARNEIS -TDO- (FRANCE) -The Liberal Democrats have won the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election, leaving new Prime Minister Boris Johnson with a Commons working majority of just one.
The Lib-Dems overturned an 8,038 majority to beat incumbent Conservative Chris Davies by 1,425 votes.
It was the first electoral test for Mr. Johnson since becoming Prime Minister and after only a week in power. It was never going to be easy. For complicated local reasons the Conservative party decided to re-present the Candidate who had been unseated following his conviction for a false expenses claim.
The constituency has a strong sheep farming community likely to suffer particularly from a No Deal Brexit which now seems increasingly likely.
Now, with a wafer-thin working majority, he will be even more at the mercy of a minority of his own MPs who are unhappy about leaving the EU and his confidence-and-supply partners the DUP to get any legislation passed in key votes.
Jane Dodd’s, a strong local candidate, who is the Welsh Liberal Democrat leader, said: "My very first act as your new MP when I get to Westminster will be to find Mr. Boris Johnson, wherever he's hiding, and tell him to stop playing with the future of our community and rule out a no deal Brexit".
However the reality is that whilst the Remain vote was united, the Leave vote was split between three parties and exceeded the Lib-Dem total.The Brexit Party's Des Parkinson, a retired police chief superintendent, who finished third, said: "If you look at the actual total of the vote, the Brexiteers won."It shows where the votes are but the Prime Minister has to deliver a clear Brexit... if he doesn't, then his government is in dire trouble".
Both Plaid Cymru – the Welsh Nationalist party - and the Greens did not field candidates, to maximize the Remain vote.Plaid leader Adam Price said the "spirit of co-operation" between the pro-Remain parties had led to Ms. Dodds's election, as he called for a second referendum."But if the Prime Minister is intent on a general election, he should know that Plaid Cymru and the other pro-Remain parties are committed to cooperating so that we beat Brexit once and for all," he added.
It was a bad night for Labour, whose vote share dropped by 12.4% as they were beaten into fourth place by the Brexit Party.
The turnout was 59.6%, down from 74.6% at the general election, but it is the highest for a by-election since Winchester in 1997.The Lib Dems regained the rural seat - which it had held for all but nine of the last 34 years and lost at the 2015 general election.
Whilst the Lib Dems will brag about the result, they will be concerned that in very favorable circumstances it was not the runaway victory they were hoping for. Prime Minister Johnson may console himself that the ruling Conservatives managed to beat the Brexit party into third place with opposition Labour fourth. Something that they were unable to do in the European elections in May. This would not have happened if the party had not switched to their new leader. Under Theresa May the party was in free fall in the opinion polls.
The Conservative party will now have to consider the difficult problem as to whether they should from an electoral alliance with the Brexit party for any future elections.