Oliver Dowden has resigned as Conservative leader after the party’s double defeat in the by-election.
In a letter to Boris Johnson, he said: “We cannot continue as before – someone has to take responsibility”.
He resigned just under an hour after the Tories lost the Wakefield by-election to Labor and Tiverton and Honiton to the Lib Dems.
Dowden said they were “the latest in a series of very bad results for our party”.
“Our supporters are shocked and disappointed by recent events and I share their feelings,” he said.
“We cannot continue as usual. Someone has to take responsibility and I have come to the conclusion that in the circumstances it would not be right to remain in office.”
Dowden had only been leader of the Conservative Party since last September and was one of the prime minister’s most loyal lieutenants.
His departure is another blow to the ailing Prime Minister, whose position will now come under renewed pressure from Tory MPs who fear their own seats are now in jeopardy.
Johnson’s leadership was plunged into a new crisis in just five minutes at around 4am this morning.
First, Labour’s Simon Lightwood regained the Red Wall seat from Wakefield in West Yorkshire by a majority of 4,925 votes – up 12.7 per cent.
If this were repeated in the next general election, it would be enough to give Starmer an overall majority.
Then, just moments later, it was confirmed that Lib Dem candidate Richard Foord had achieved an impressive result in Tiverton and Honiton, overthrowing a Conservative majority of 24,000.
He won by 6,144 votes at an exceptional 30 percent angle from the Tories.
It is the first time since 1991, when John Major was Prime Minister, that a ruling party has lost two by-elections on the same day.
And it means Johnson has lost four by-elections in a year after the Lib Dem won in North Shropshire in December and Chesham and Amersham last June.
Johnson, who is 4,000 miles away in Rwanda at a summit of Commonwealth leaders, yesterday dismissed suggestions that he would have to quit if he lost both by-elections.
He said: “I will be watching the results with interest, but always with optimism and enthusiasm, but most seasoned political observers know that mid-term by-elections are not necessarily easy for any government.”
The Wakefield by-election was called after incumbent Tory MP Imran Ahmad Khan resigned after being convicted of sexually assaulting a teenager.
The Tiverton and Honiton by-elections came after Neil Parish resigned as a Tory MP after admitting to watching porn in the House of Commons.
https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/oliver-dowden-quits-as-tory-chairman_uk_62b550c5e4b06594c1e2170b Oliver Dowden Quits As Tory Chairman In Wake Of By-Elections Defeats