Oliver Dowden resigns as chairman of the Conservative Party after by-election losses

Dowden said Conservative voters are "distressed and disappointed by recent events, and I share their feelings"

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Oliver Dowden has resigned as chairman of the Conservative Party after it suffered two by-election defeats, saying in a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson that “someone must take responsibility”.

Dowden cited the by-elections as prompting his resignation as chairman of the Conservative Party.

“Yesterday’s Parliamentary by-elections are the latest in a run of very poor result for our party,” Mr Dowden wrote in a letter to the Prime Minister.

“Our supporters are distressed and disappointed by recent events, and I share their feelings.

Dowden cited the by-elections as prompting his resignation as chairman of the Conservative Party.
Dowden cited the by-elections as prompting his resignation as chairman of the Conservative Party.

“We cannot carry on with business as usual. Somebody must take responsibility and I have concluded that, in these circumstances, it would not be right for me to remain in office.”

The MP ended his letter by saying: “I want to emphasise that this is a deeply personal decision that I have taken alone.

“I will, as always, remain loyal to the Conservative Party.”

Boris Johnson’s leadership of the Tory party suffered a double blow as voters rejected the Conservatives in two crunch by-elections.

In Tiverton and Honiton the Liberal Democrats overturned a 24,000 Tory majority to win, while Labour reclaimed Wakefield.

The contests, triggered by the resignation of disgraced Tories, offered voters the chance to give their verdict on the Prime Minister just weeks after 41% of his own MPs cast their ballots against him.

A dramatic swing of almost 30% from the Tories to the Liberal Democrats saw Richard Foord secure a majority of 6,144.

Dowden cited the by-elections as prompting his resignation as chairman of the Conservative Party.
Dowden cited the by-elections as prompting his resignation as chairman of the Conservative Party.

In Wakefield, Simon Lightwood was elected with a majority of 4,925 on a swing of 12.7% from the Tories to Labour.

The previous Wakefield MP Imran Ahmad Khan quit after being found guilty of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy – a crime for which he was jailed for 18 months.

Wakefield was one of the so-called red wall seats won by the Tories in the 2019 general election after being Labour since the 1930s.