Conservative control of Britain on Friday held by former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, but saw hefty majorities in two other seats blown away as scandals and high inflation took their toll.
Rishi Sunak was expected to become the first prime minister to lose three parliamentary seats in one day, but he was spared that humiliation by narrowly winning the west London seat of Uxbridge and South Ruislip.
While the result may have brought some relief to the beleaguered Sunak, the destruction of his party’s 19,000 majority in the Somerton and Frome seat and its 20,000 majority in the Selby and Ainsty constituency will come as a hammer blow ahead of next year’s general election.
The main opposition Labor Party is currently enjoying double-digit poll results and is poised to retake power for the first time in over a decade. He has now won six by-elections since March last year, with two of those seats captured from the Tories.
However, the Tories were expected to lose Johnson’s former seat of Uxbridge and South Ruislip, but won by 13,965 votes to 13,470, beating Labor leader Keir Starmer and Labor London Mayor Sadiq Khan.
Sunak, who was not seen on the campaign trail, tried to project a business-as-usual image on Thursday but privately warned backbench MPs to expect the worst.
altarLast October after the disastrous of her predecessor Liz Truss and initially managed to stabilize financial markets in distress due to her radical tax-cutting agenda.
But the 43-year-old former finance minister is struggling to reverse his party’s declining fortunes, which first began during the so-called “Partygate” scandal under Johnson.
Sunak’s turnaround efforts have been hampered in part by persistently high inflation, which has spooked the markets again in recent months.
With interest rates at a 15-year high, pushing mortgage and other borrowing costs higher than ever before, there are few signs of the worst cost-of-living crisis in a generation.
Sunak started the year by giving voters five key promises, including halving inflation, growing the economy and cutting waiting times at the stretched National Health Service.
It has made little progress on most of the promises, and there are persistent fears that the UK will slide into recession this year as high interest rates constrain spending.
Sunak’s net favorability has fallen to its lowest level since he entered Downing Street, with two-thirds of Britons saying they have an unfavorable view of him, according to YouGov.