Tory members won’t vote for Boris Johnson in crunch Devon by-election

“I don’t think I’d recognise the new candidate, Helen thingy, if she walked past me. She’s made no effort with the [Conservative] Club. We’ve had no leaflets or posters delivered and as far as I can see the party is doing its best to hide her from the voters because its scared of what she might actually say.”

(She’s the one next to Alison Hernandez – Owl)

By David Parsley

Conservative voters in Tiverton and Honiton are torn on whether Boris Johnson is an electoral asset or liability ahead of the by-election on 23 June.

The resignation of Conservative MP Neil Parish after he was caught watching pornography on his phone in the House of Commons has thrown this sleepy Devon constituency into the national spotlight.

Parish left behind a 24,000 majority, and despite coming in third at the 2019 General Election the Liberal Democrats are hopeful of pulling off their third big mid-term by-election swing in a year.

Nick Sleeman, bar manager at the Honiton Conservative Club, has had enough of the Prime Minister’s antics and will be voting Liberal Democrat in a little of two weeks’ time.

“I’m definitely voting Lib Dem because I’ve had enough of Boris’ lies,” said Mr Sleeman. “He should go.”

However, even if Mr Johnson is forced out of office Mr Sleeman has another reason not to vote Conservative for the first time he can remember. He’s not a fan of the local Tory candidate Helen Hurford, the town’s current deputy mayor and owner of a beauty salon just in Honiton.

“I don’t think I’d recognise the new candidate, Helen thingy, if she walked past me. She’s made no effort with the [Conservative] Club. We’ve had no leaflets or posters delivered and as far as I can see the party is doing its best to hide her from the voters because its scared of what she might actually say.”

He is just one of many lifelong Tory voters in the town who are switching their allegiance to the Liberal Democrats this time around.

Gerry Mills is secretary of the club, and like his colleague Mr Sleeman, is disillusioned with the lack of profile of his Conservative candidate.

“I’m the secretary of the Honiton Conservative Club, and I’m probably not going to vote for our candidate at the by-election. I doubt I’ll vote Lib Dem either, and I’ll probably just stay at home.

Another lifelong Tory voter Carole Corfield is more definitive on the position of Mr Johnson. She will only vote Conservative at the by-election if he is no longer in power.

“I voted for Boris in 2019 to get Brexit done,” said Mrs Corfield. “But he’s lied to us all so much now that I can’t vote for him.

“I’ll go Lib Dem this time unless Boris has gone. I think I’d vote Conservative if there was pretty much any other leader than him there, but I won’t while he’s still in power.”

In contrast to the low key Conservative campaign in Tiverton and Honiton the Liberal Democrats have a big presence in the constituency as the party attempts to overturn the 24,000 Tory majority (Photo: David Parsley)

While the view among Honiton Tories looks bad for Mr Johnson, the view among Tory voters in Tiverton appears more positive.

In the Tiverton Constitutional Club Philip Gibbs does not believe there is a better Tory MP to occupy No 10 Downing Street.

“He’s the best man for the job,” he said. “I can’t think of anyone who could replace him.”

Fellow Tory voter Henry Middleton added “we should keep him because he’s fun,” a sentiment shared by his friend George Williams.

Outside the Constitutional Club there is a whiff of rebellion among the Conservative voters of Tiverton.

Barry Tretherway will be switching his vote to the Lib Dems later this month.

“How can we trust Boris anymore after all the lies,” he said. “Plus, we have a candidate I know nothing about because we’ve never heard her speak.”

‘Out in a year’: what the papers say about Tory vote on Boris Johnson

A haunted-looking Boris Johnson stares out from the front pages of many of the papers after a dramatic night of Conservative party bloodletting at Westminster.

Martin Farrer 

The prime minister is shown being driven back from the Commons to Downing Street after he won a Tory no-confidence vote in his leadership by 211 to 148.

Although he called the victory decisive and vowed to “bash on” in government, the reaction of some Tory-supporting newspapers suggests he will not be able to draw a line under his Partygate woes any time soon.

“A wounded victor”, says the Times, alongside the picture of Johnson that seems eerily similar to the famous one of Margaret Thatcher being driven away from Downing Street after she was ousted in a Tory party coup.

The paper adds that it was a worse than expected result for Johnson and throws up another parallel with Thatcher by noting that the same proportion of MPs voted against her as against her current scandal-plagued successor. She resigned two days later.

The Daily Telegraph’s front page headline says “Hollow victory tears Tories apart” and carries a secondary headline saying Johnson’s authority has been “crushed” as rebels circle to finish him off.

Papers tomorrow The Daily Telepgragh

 Photograph: The Daily Telegraph

The paper’s columnists line up to give a damning verdict on Johnson’s prospects for leading the party into the future with Tim Stanley declaring simply: “The PM is toast.”

The Financial Times also suggests that the prime minister is badly damaged by the vote with its lead headline saying “Johnson wounded in confidence vote as 41% of Tory MPs rebel”.

The Mirror proclaims “Party’s over, Boris” and says that the prime minister has suffered a “brutal attack” by his own side “and is warned that he will be out in a year”.

The Guardian’s splash says “PM clinging to power after vote humiliation”, with columnist Martin Kettle writing: “He is irreparably damaged. Politicians don’t recover from such things.”

The i’s front page says “Wounded Johnson in peril” and inside its political editor, Paul Waugh, says Johnson is the “sick man of Downing Street, infecting all those around him”.

The Metro also thinks it’s time for Johnson to go: “The party is over Boris”.

Tomorrow’s Paper Today 📰


🔴He survives confidence ballot…but blow as 41% say it’s time for him to go

🔴 Fears he is left a lame-duck premier like predecessor may ahead of crucial by-elections

— Metro (@MetroUK) June 6, 2022

However, the prime minister still has some defiant backing from his cheerleaders in the national papers. Reflecting the concern of some Tories that dumping Johnson is electoral suicide, the Mail has mocked up a red button marked “Lib Dems Labour SNP” and says “MPs hit the self-destruct button by opening door to smirking Starmer’s coalition of chaos”. Underneath, its main headline says “Boris vows: I’ll bash on”.

Daily Mail fron tpage

 Photograph: Mail

The Express also tries to strike an upbeat note with a headline which reads: “Defiant and unbowed … Boris: I’ll lead party to victory”.

The Sun’s splash is “Night of the blond knives”, saying that Johnson has been “stabbed in the back by 148 MPs”.

Tomorrow’s front page: New photo of Lilibet celebrating her first birthday released by Harry and Meghan // Boris Johnson narrowly survives a confidence vote as 148 Tory rebels stabbed him in the back

— The Sun (@TheSun) June 6, 2022

In Scotland the Herald says “Wounded and weakened, but Johnson vows to stay in office”, while the Press and Journal says “Boris body blow despite winning confidence vote”.

Papers for tomorrow The Herald

 Photograph: The Herald

The Record opts to throw Johnson’s election-winning slogan back at him with its front page headline: “Get Borexit done”

The Northern Echo says “Carry on Boris (for now)“, while the Newcastle Journal asks “Is he on his way out?”.