Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party has held on to their Old Bexley and Sidcup parliamentary seat in a special by-election with a reduced majority. The anti-Brexit Liberal Democrats crashed to fifth place and the upstart Rejoin EU scraped together just 151 votes.
Conservative candidate Louie French won the suburban London constituency, regarded as a “safe seat” for the Tories, with 51.48 per cent of the vote; comfortably ahead of Labour rival Daniel Francis on 30.88 of the vote — although down 18,597 votes from 2019.
Analysts believe the Tories’ result is broadly in line with pre-election predictions that some “disgruntled Tory voters” would stay at home, with Labour “gain[ing] ground by default, [but] netting little new support.”
Lacklustre results have traditionally been par for the course for governing parties during by-elections — this one triggered by the untimely death of former government minister James Brokenshire — however, so Britain’s anti-Brexit factions will perhaps be more perturbed by the results than Boris Johnson, given their exceptionally poor performance.
Richard Tice, Nigel Farage’s successor as leader of Reform UK — the rebranded Brexit Party — was the candidate who claimed third place in the by-election, while the Liberal Democrats crashed to fifth place behind the far-left Greens.
Rejoin EU party candidate Richard Hewison trailed in at eighth place with just 0.69 per cent of the vote, behind even the UK Independence Party — which has fallen largely off the political radar since former leader Nigel Farage left and founded the Brexit Party-Reform UK.
The result will prove a bitter pill to swallow for hardline Remainers, who were in recent weeks still clinging to polls claiming that Britons would vote to rejoin the European Union if given the chance at the ballot box.
Old Bexley and Sidcup (UK Parliament) by-election result:
CON: 51.5% (-13.1)
LAB: 30.9% (+7.4)
REFUK: 6.6% (+6.6)
GRN: 3.8% (+0.6)
LDEM: 3.0% (-5.3)
— Britain Elects (@BritainElects) December 3, 2021
Mr Tice, who spoke critically to Breitbart London on Prime Minister Johnson’s “net-stupid” green agenda and weakness on illegal immigration during the by-election campaign, hailed the results as having confirmed that “The British political landscape has changed” in comments to The Telegraph.
“There are now five parties in the British landscape. We’re the only one with a clear message of cutting taxes, cutting unnecessary regulation, and going for high growth,” he said.
“[The Tory] vote collapsed. I mean, almost 20,000 fewer votes than they secured at the general election,” he went on, describing the governing party’s mediocre performance in what is supposed to be one of its strongholds as “a rejection of Boris Johnson, personally” and evidence that “He’s now viewed by lifelong Tory voters, as a liability, not an asset.”
“Many Tory MPs should be looking over their shoulder at their small majorities and thinking and reflecting very, very hard about what this consocialist government is doing to this country,” he added.
Johnson, for his part, congratulated French on his victory on social, adding that he was looking forward “to working with him to #BuildBackBetter in Old Bexley and Sidcup and across our whole United Kingdom”.
Congratulations to @louie_french, our newly elected Conservative MP for Old Bexley and Sidcup.
I look forward to working with him to #BuildBackBetter in Old Bexley and Sidcup and across our whole United Kingdom
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) December 3, 2021