Britain’s ruling Conservatives saw their parliamentary working majority reduced to just one as the anti-Brexit Liberal Democrats won a by-election in Wales.
Incumbent MP Chris Davies, who originally had a majority of 8,038, faced a recall vote after he was convicted of faking expenses claims. The Lib Dems Jane Dodds won in Thursday’s ballot with 13,826 votes to Davies’s 12,401 in the race to become MP for Brecon and Radnorshire.
The Brexit Party, led by arch-Eurosceptic Nigel Farage, came third and pushed the official opposition party Labour into fourth.
In 2016’s referendum to leave the European Union the constituency mirrored the voting intentions of the country with just under 52 per cent saying they were in favour of Brexit.
Newly appointed Prime Minister Boris Johnson now faces an even task in getting any Brexit legislation through parliament with 310 voting Conservative MPs plus 10 Democratic Unionist Party MP who they have a confidence and supply deal with. Opposition members, including 13 Liberal Democrats, command 319 votes. One party, Sinn Fein boycotts the parliament and the speaker and his deputies make up the rest.
“My first act as an MP will be to find Boris Johnson and tell him loud and clear to stop playing with the future of our communities and rule out a no-deal Brexit,” Ms Dodds said in her victory speech. “Let’s get to work.”
But Conservative Party Chairman James Cleverly insisted the leadership could take comfort from the result as he slammed Labour’s poor showing.
"What we saw was a very close result in a by-election which the Lib Dems were expecting to romp home comfortably," he told the BBC.
The Lib Dems, who have seen their stock rise in recent polls, were bolstered by the support of a handful of smaller pro-Remain parties who did not put a candidate forward.
Mr Johnson, appointed last week, has said the UK must leave the EU on October 31 with or without a withdrawal agreement. While he has insisted his preference is to agree a deal with Brussels, his belief in “Brexit do-or die” has horrified many MPs and business leaders alike who fear it could send the UK into a recession.