Richard Tice: Slashed Conservative majority in Old Bexley and Sidcup is proof Tory heartlands see Boris Johnson as a ‘liability not an asset’

The reduction in the Conservatives’ majority in Old Bexley and Sidcup is a “rejection of Boris Johnson personally” because the Prime Minister is now viewed as a “liability, not an asset” in Tory heartlands, the leader of the Reform UK party has claimed.

Richard Tice, who stood in Thursday’s by-election and secured 6.6 per cent of the vote, said the result showed a collapse in support for the Government ahead of another by-election in two weeks’ time.

The Conservative candidate, Louie French, was returned as the constituency’s new MP following the death of James Brokenshire, a former Northern Ireland secretary, in October. He won 51.3 per cent of the vote, with a majority of 4,478, compared with Mr Brokenshire’s 18,952.

“The British political landscape has changed tonight: confirmed,” Mr Tice told 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.

“Their vote collapsed. I mean, almost 20,000 fewer votes than they secured at the general election.

“And the reality is that this was a rejection of Boris Johnson, personally. 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.”

Swing at the Old Bexley and Sidcup by-election, 2021

All eyes on North Shropshire 

All opposition parties are targeting North Shropshire for another by-election on Dec 16.

The vote there follows the resignation of Owen Paterson, who was mired in sleaze accusations after he was found by the House of Commons Standards Committee to have inappropriately lobbied ministers on behalf of a company he worked for.

“It’s not a sad by-election, it’s a by-election driven by hypocrisy and sleaze,” Mr Tice said.

The Tories are defending a majority of almost 23,000 in the constituency, but many believe it could be substantially reduced because of the Government’s falling approval ratings (see poll below from Nov 20)  and the accusations of sleaze in Westminster.

T Poll: To what extent, if at all, do you approve or disapprove of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s performance in the following areas?

The Liberal Democrats, who lost their deposit in Old Bexley and Sidcup, are campaigning hard after securing 10 per cent of the vote at the 2019 general election.

On Thursday Mr French said it was not possible to “read too much into a by-election”, and insisted that “people in Bexley still overwhelmingly support Boris”.

“It’s unheard of for a government to do this well, to take more than 50 per cent of the vote with this number of candidates on a cold December night,” he said.

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