Brecon and Radnorshire by-election: Boris Johnson faces first electoral test in vote that could cut Tories’ majority to one

Boris Johnson faces his first electoral test as Prime Minister as voters go to the polls for the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election.

The Lib Dems are the favourites to win the seat, a result which would reduce Mr Johnson’s already slim Commons working majority to just one.

The by-election was triggered after Tory MP Chris Davies was sacked following a recall petition, which was started when being found guilty of submitting a false expenses claim.

He was later chosen by his local party to fight to reclaim his seat. 

Jane Dodds is contesting the seat for the Lib Dems and would bring the party’s total number of MPs to 13 if she wins. 

Boris Johnson is facing a test today as voters go to the polls in mid-Wales (EPA)

The mid-Wales constituency has traditionally been a toss-up between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats.

The Liberal Democrats held the constituency from 1997 to 2015, when it was won by Mr Davies. His majority at the 2017 general election was 8,038.

The seat of Brecon and Radnorshire is currently vacant, so whoever wins the by-election will increase by one either the Government’s tally of MPs or those of the opposition.

Tory grandees including Mr Johnson, Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove have all visited the constituency in recent weeks.

The new Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson also visited the constituency in recent day while her leadership rival Ed Davey is expected in the constituency on polling day.

Conservative candidate Mr Davies said his party has run a “clean and positive” campaign.

Former MP Chris Davies who has been selected to fight for the parliamentary seat he lost (PA)

He also distanced himself from Mr Johnson’s calls for voters to back the Tories to deliver Brexit, insisting it was about the “local campaign”. 

He said: “Having come from here, having went to school here, I am a local campaigner running a local campaign.”

Ms Dodds said people in Brecon and Radnorshire “have had enough of being forgotten by Westminster. They deserve better”.

She said her priorities are to stand up for Welsh farmers and oppose Tory cuts, adding: “This by-election is, therefore, a choice between change with the Liberal Democrats or the same old broken politics with the Tories.”

The recall petition was triggered after Mr Davies was convicted in March after he admitted submitting two false expenses invoices for nine photographs costing £700 to decorate his new office.

He was fined £1,500, ordered to pay £2,500 towards legal costs and told to carry out 50 hours of community service.

Liberal Democrat leadership candidate Jo Swinson said she wanted to reset the party’s culture (Getty Images)

Mr Davies was later selected again by the Conservative Party to fight for the parliamentary seat he lost after more than 10,000 constituents signed a petition to remove him.

The Lib Dems, who would need a swing of 9.8% to retake the seat, could benefit from a “Remain alliance” forged in the constituency, with Plaid Cymru and the Greens agreeing not to field candidates in the by-election.

A Lib Dem victory could also rejig the parliamentary arithmetic, making it harder for the new Prime Minister to get his Brexit plans through the Commons.

There are currently 320 MPs who, on paper, would back the Government in a crunch vote in the House of Commons – 310 Tories and 10 members of the DUP.

The DUP agreed to support the Conservatives in certain key votes, such as confidence motions and Budgets, as part of a deal reached in the aftermath of the 2017 general election.

If the Lib Dems win the seat, the opposition tally would increase from 318 to 319.

Polls open at 7am and are will close at 10am. The result of the by-election is expected at around 3am on Friday August 2.

The six candidates standing in the by-election are: Chris Davies (Conservative), Tom Davies (Labour), Jane Dodds (Liberal Democrats), Des Parkinson (Brexit), Liz Phillips (Ukip), Lady Lily The Pink (Loony).


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