Boris Johnson just broke a prime ministerial record - and not in a good way

Boris Johnson’s time as prime minister got off to a rocky start last night as the Conservatives lost to the Liberal Democrats in the by-election in Brecon and Radnorshire.

The resurgent Liberal Democrats overturned an 8,038 majority to beat incumbent Conservative Chris Davies by 1,425 votes. Davies stood again after being unseated by a petition following his conviction for a false expenses claim.

This was the first test for Johnson a little more than a week into his time as prime minister. But he has broken a political record that no prime minister wants to break.

In losing this seat, which brings his working majority to just one MP, Johnson’s by-election defeat is the quickest for any prime minister in British political history.

Sky News political correspondent Lewis Goddall tweeted that Herbert Henry Asquith lost a seat after 16 days, but Johnson has lost a seat even faster.

How have recent PMs faired?

It took David Cameron two years to lose his first by-election, when Louise Mensch resigned from the House of Commons and Labour’s Andy Sawford took the seat. Cameron would go on to lose a further two seats to UKIP in 2014 as Britain’s relationship with the EU and immigration came under more scrutiny.

His successor Theresa May lost her first by-election in December 2016, five months after she became Conservative leader. The incumbent Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith resigned in protest at the government's proposal to build a third runway at Heathrow airport. This was less than six months after the referendum on the UK's membership of the EU, in which Goldsmith had campaigned for a Leave vote, despite his constituents voting heavily in favour of Remain.

But it wasn’t all bad, because in 2017 the Conservative Party gained a seat from Labour. This was the first by-election gain for a government since 1982. No wonder she called that election just three months later...

What does this mean?

By-elections can be deceiving. They're normally a chance for people in a constituency to tell either the government or opposition exactly how much they don't like their approach. Johnson might have failed to keep the seat, but Labour fell into forth place, so there's plenty of misery to go around.

How will Johnson and Corbyn respond?

Not very well, probably.

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