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.
Boris Johnson's majority cut to just 1 as Tories lose key by-election https://t.co/RWCRVDgEwN
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.