Boris Johnson warned over possible resignations after by-election defeat

Boris Johnson has been warned over the fragility of his leadership after his working majority was reduced to just one by the Tories' loss in the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election.

The new Prime Minister was told he may face defections or resignations from Conservative MPs who are in opposition to his hardline Brexit approach.

Meanwhile, Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson predicted further electoral alliances after Plaid Cymru and the Green Party stood aside in the mid-Wales constituency to boost the chances of a pro-EU MP succeeding.

Tory former justice minister Dr Philip Lee said he and colleagues were considering their next moves if the Government pushed for a no-deal departure.

The MP told The Guardian: "I have things to think about over the summer, but it is not just me.

"There are a number of colleagues who are spending the summer reflecting on what is the right way for them to confront this no-deal scenario.

"Of course, it is difficult for all of us because we joined the Conservative party, but it has morphed into something a lot different to what I joined in 1992."

POLITICS Brecon
(PA Graphics)

Conservative former attorney general Dominic Grieve has previously said he would consider resigning the Tory whip if Mr Johnson led the party, while other pro-EU MPs could follow.

The Tories lost Thursday's vote to the Lib Dems by a margin of 1,425 votes, in what was the quickest by-election defeat for any PM of the post-war period.

The ballot was triggered when then-MP Chris Davies was ousted by a recall petition after he admitted submitting false invoices for expenses.

But the Conservatives selected him to run again and he lost to Welsh Lib Dems leader Jane Dodds, whose party swung the vote nearly 12% from the Tories.

The victory was aided by the "Remain alliance" of anti-Brexit parties, and Ms Swinson predicted further pacts in future.

In a celebratory appearance alongside her new MP, Ms Swinson said: "I will fight to keep our country in the European Union, and we now have in Parliament one more MP who will fight to make that happen."

The Lib Dem leader said she had exchanged messages with the Green and Plaid leaderships and told the BBC: "I think there will be more co-operation in future elections."

Brecon and Radnorshire by-election: state of the parties in the House of Commons
(PA Graphics)

Plaid Cymru's Westminster leader Liz Saville Roberts also praised the alliance.

"The victory of Remain cross-party co-operation and Jane Dodds in Brecon and Radnorshire last night will give those in Downing Street plotting a snap general election pause for thought, because it shows they cannot take the public for granted," she said.

The Tory loss will add to the PM's challenges to steer Brexit through Parliament and may increase the chances of a snap general election.

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Brecon and Radnorshire by-election
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Brecon and Radnorshire by-election
Liberal Democrats MP Jane Dodds cheers with colleagues and supporters as she wins the seat in the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election at the Royal Welsh Showground, Llanelwedd, Builth Wells. (Photo by Ben Birchall/PA Images via Getty Images)
Liberal Democrats MP Jane Dodds smiles after hearing the result as she wins the seat in the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election at the Royal Welsh Showground, Llanelwedd, Builth Wells. (Photo by Ben Birchall/PA Images via Getty Images)
Conservative candidate Chris Davies speaks on stage as Liberal Democrats MP Jane Dodds looks on after winning the seat in the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election at the Royal Welsh Showground, Llanelwedd, Builth Wells. (Photo by Ben Birchall/PA Images via Getty Images)
Liberal Democrat candidate Jane Dodds delivers a speech after winning the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election at the Royal Welsh Showground on August 2, 2019 in Builth Wells, Wales. - Britain's Boris Johnson lost his first major test as prime minister on August 2 when his candidate lost to a pro-EU rival in a by-election that could narrow his parliamentary majority to one. Official results showed the European-supporting Liberal Democrats' candidate Jane Dodds defeating Chris Davies from Johnson's ruling Conservative party by 13,826 to 12,401 votes. (Photo by Isabel INFANTES / AFP) / The erroneous mention appearing in the metadata of this photo by Isabel INFANTES has been modified in AFP systems in the following manner: [Jane Dodds] instead of [Jane Dodd]. Please immediately remove the erroneous mention from all your online services and delete it from your servers. If you have been authorized by AFP to distribute it to third parties, please ensure that the same actions are carried out by them. Failure to promptly comply with these instructions will entail liability on your part for any continued or post notification usage. Therefore we thank you very much for all your attention and prompt action. We are sorry for the inconvenience this notification may cause and remain at your disposal for any further information you may require. (Photo credit should read ISABEL INFANTES/AFP/Getty Images)
The Monster Raving Loony Leader Party, Howling Laud Hope, displays an assortment of political badges on his jacket during the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election count at the Royal Welsh Showground on August 2, 2019 in Builth Wells, Wales. - Britain's Boris Johnson lost his first major test as prime minister on August 2 when his candidate lost to a pro-EU rival in a by-election that could narrow his parliamentary majority to one. Official results showed the European-supporting Liberal Democrats' candidate Jane Dodds defeating Chris Davies from Johnson's ruling Conservative party by 13,826 to 12,401 votes. (Photo by Isabel INFANTES / AFP) / The erroneous mention appearing in the metadata of this photo by Isabel INFANTES has been modified in AFP systems in the following manner: [Jane Dodds] instead of [Jane Dodd]. Please immediately remove the erroneous mention from all your online services and delete it from your servers. If you have been authorized by AFP to distribute it to third parties, please ensure that the same actions are carried out by them. Failure to promptly comply with these instructions will entail liability on your part for any continued or post notification usage. Therefore we thank you very much for all your attention and prompt action. We are sorry for the inconvenience this notification may cause and remain at your disposal for any further information you may require. (Photo credit should read ISABEL INFANTES/AFP/Getty Images)
Members of the Official Monster Raving Loony Party listen during the announcement of the Liberal Democrat candidate winning the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election at the Royal Welsh Showground on August 2, 2019 in Builth Wells, Wales. - Britain's Boris Johnson lost his first major test as prime minister on August 2 when his candidate lost to a pro-EU rival in a by-election that could narrow his parliamentary majority to one. Official results showed the European-supporting Liberal Democrats' candidate Jane Dodds defeating Chris Davies from Johnson's ruling Conservative party by 13,826 to 12,401 votes. (Photo by Isabel INFANTES / AFP) / The erroneous mention appearing in the metadata of this photo by Isabel INFANTES has been modified in AFP systems in the following manner: [Jane Dodds] instead of [Jane Dodd]. Please immediately remove the erroneous mention from all your online services and delete it from your servers. If you have been authorized by AFP to distribute it to third parties, please ensure that the same actions are carried out by them. Failure to promptly comply with these instructions will entail liability on your part for any continued or post notification usage. Therefore we thank you very much for all your attention and prompt action. We are sorry for the inconvenience this notification may cause and remain at your disposal for any further information you may require. (Photo credit should read ISABEL INFANTES/AFP/Getty Images)
Liberal Democrat candidate Jane Dodds (R) is congratulated by the Official Monster Raving Loony Party candidate Lady Lily The Pink after defeating Tory incumbent Chris Davies (L) in the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election at the Royal Welsh Showground on August 2, 2019 in Builth Wells, Wales. - Britain's Boris Johnson lost his first major test as prime minister on August 2 when his candidate lost to a pro-EU rival in a by-election that could narrow his parliamentary majority to one. Official results showed the European-supporting Liberal Democrats' candidate Jane Dodds defeating Chris Davies from Johnson's ruling Conservative party by 13,826 to 12,401 votes. (Photo by Isabel INFANTES / AFP) / The erroneous mention appearing in the metadata of this photo by Isabel INFANTES has been modified in AFP systems in the following manner: [Jane Dodds] instead of [Jane Dodd]. Please immediately remove the erroneous mention from all your online services and delete it from your servers. If you have been authorized by AFP to distribute it to third parties, please ensure that the same actions are carried out by them. Failure to promptly comply with these instructions will entail liability on your part for any continued or post notification usage. Therefore we thank you very much for all your attention and prompt action. We are sorry for the inconvenience this notification may cause and remain at your disposal for any further information you may require. (Photo credit should read ISABEL INFANTES/AFP/Getty Images)
Liberal Democrat candidate Jane Dodds (C) arrives with Liberal Democrat MP Ed Davey (L) to the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election at the Royal Welsh Showground on August 2, 2019 in Builth Wells, Wales. - Britain's Boris Johnson lost his first major test as prime minister on August 2 when his candidate lost to a pro-EU rival in a by-election that could narrow his parliamentary majority to one. Official results showed the European-supporting Liberal Democrats' candidate Jane Dodds defeating Chris Davies from Johnson's ruling Conservative party by 13,826 to 12,401 votes. (Photo by Isabel INFANTES / AFP) / The erroneous mention appearing in the metadata of this photo by Isabel INFANTES has been modified in AFP systems in the following manner: [Jane Dodds] instead of [Jane Dodd]. Please immediately remove the erroneous mention from all your online services and delete it from your servers. If you have been authorized by AFP to distribute it to third parties, please ensure that the same actions are carried out by them. Failure to promptly comply with these instructions will entail liability on your part for any continued or post notification usage. Therefore we thank you very much for all your attention and prompt action. We are sorry for the inconvenience this notification may cause and remain at your disposal for any further information you may require. (Photo credit should read ISABEL INFANTES/AFP/Getty Images)
Liberal Democrat candidate Jane Dodds (R) is congratulated by the Official Monster Raving Loony Party candidate Lady Lily The Pink after winning the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election at the Royal Welsh Showground on August 2, 2019 in Builth Wells, Wales. - Britain's Boris Johnson lost his first major test as prime minister on August 2 when his candidate lost to a pro-EU rival in a by-election that could narrow his parliamentary majority to one. Official results showed the European-supporting Liberal Democrats' candidate Jane Dodds defeating Chris Davies from Johnson's ruling Conservative party by 13,826 to 12,401 votes. (Photo by Isabel INFANTES / AFP) / The erroneous mention appearing in the metadata of this photo by Isabel INFANTES has been modified in AFP systems in the following manner: [Jane Dodds] instead of [Jane Dodd]. Please immediately remove the erroneous mention from all your online services and delete it from your servers. If you have been authorized by AFP to distribute it to third parties, please ensure that the same actions are carried out by them. Failure to promptly comply with these instructions will entail liability on your part for any continued or post notification usage. Therefore we thank you very much for all your attention and prompt action. We are sorry for the inconvenience this notification may cause and remain at your disposal for any further information you may require. (Photo credit should read ISABEL INFANTES/AFP/Getty Images)
Liberal Democrat MP Ed Davey (C-L) and Liberal Democrat candidate Jane Dodds (C-R) celebrate after winning the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election at the Royal Welsh Showground on August 2, 2019 in Builth Wells, Wales. - Britain's Boris Johnson lost his first major test as prime minister on August 2 when his candidate lost to a pro-EU rival in a by-election that could narrow his parliamentary majority to one. Official results showed the European-supporting Liberal Democrats' candidate Jane Dodds defeating Chris Davies from Johnson's ruling Conservative party by 13,826 to 12,401 votes. (Photo by Isabel INFANTES / AFP) / The erroneous mention appearing in the metadata of this photo by Isabel INFANTES has been modified in AFP systems in the following manner: [Jane Dodds] instead of [Jane Dodd]. Please immediately remove the erroneous mention from all your online services and delete it from your servers. If you have been authorized by AFP to distribute it to third parties, please ensure that the same actions are carried out by them. Failure to promptly comply with these instructions will entail liability on your part for any continued or post notification usage. Therefore we thank you very much for all your attention and prompt action. We are sorry for the inconvenience this notification may cause and remain at your disposal for any further information you may require. (Photo credit should read ISABEL INFANTES/AFP/Getty Images)
Liberal Democrat candidate Jane Dodds delivers a speech after winning the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election at the Royal Welsh Showground on August 2, 2019 in Builth Wells, Wales. - Britain's Boris Johnson lost his first major test as prime minister on August 2 when his candidate lost to a pro-EU rival in a by-election that could narrow his parliamentary majority to one. Official results showed the European-supporting Liberal Democrats' candidate Jane Dodds defeating Chris Davies from Johnson's ruling Conservative party by 13,826 to 12,401 votes. (Photo by Isabel INFANTES / AFP) / The erroneous mention appearing in the metadata of this photo by Isabel INFANTES has been modified in AFP systems in the following manner: [Jane Dodds] instead of [Jane Dodd]. Please immediately remove the erroneous mention from all your online services and delete it from your servers. If you have been authorized by AFP to distribute it to third parties, please ensure that the same actions are carried out by them. Failure to promptly comply with these instructions will entail liability on your part for any continued or post notification usage. Therefore we thank you very much for all your attention and prompt action. We are sorry for the inconvenience this notification may cause and remain at your disposal for any further information you may require. (Photo credit should read ISABEL INFANTES/AFP/Getty Images)
The Official Monster Raving Loony Party candidate Lady Lily The Pink (C) and her team arrive at the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election count at the Royal Welsh Showground in Builth Wells, Wales on August 2, 2019. - Britain's Boris Johnson faces his first test at the ballot box Thursday in a by-election that could reduce his parliamentary majority to just one, as his new government vowed to double funding for a possible no-deal Brexit. Johnson's Brexit plan could also become harder to enact as his governing Conservative Party looks set to lose the Welsh seat of Brecon and Radnorshire to a pro-Europe candidate on Thursday. (Photo by Isabel INFANTES / AFP) (Photo credit should read ISABEL INFANTES/AFP/Getty Images)
Ballot papers are counted during the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election count at the Royal Welsh Showground in Builth Wells, Wales on August 2, 2019. - Britain's Boris Johnson faces his first test at the ballot box Thursday in a by-election that could reduce his parliamentary majority to just one, as his new government vowed to double funding for a possible no-deal Brexit. Johnson's Brexit plan could also become harder to enact as his governing Conservative Party looks set to lose the Welsh seat of Brecon and Radnorshire to a pro-Europe candidate on Thursday. (Photo by Isabel INFANTES / AFP) (Photo credit should read ISABEL INFANTES/AFP/Getty Images)
BUILTH WELLS, UNITED KINGDOM - AUGUST 01: Conservative party candidate Chris Davies looks on after Liberal Democrats party candidate Jane Dodds is announced as the winner of the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election at the Royal Welsh Showground on August 1, 2019 in Builth Wells, United Kingdom. A by-election was called after Chris Davies, who had held the Brecon and Radnorshire seat for the Conservative Party since the 2015 general election, was unseated by a recall petition. Pro-EU parties Plaid Cymru, the Green Party and the Independent Group for Change decided not to field candidates in the by-election in order to give the Liberal Democrat candidate Jane Dodds the best chance of winning the seat. (Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)
BUILTH WELLS, UNITED KINGDOM - AUGUST 01: Liberal Democrats party candidate Jane Dodds arrives at the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election count at the Royal Welsh Showground on August 1, 2019 in Builth Wells, United Kingdom. A by-election was called after Chris Davies, who had held the Brecon and Radnorshire seat for the Conservative Party since the 2015 general election, was unseated by a recall petition. Pro-EU parties Plaid Cymru, the Green Party and the Independent Group for Change decided not to field candidates in the by-election in order to give the Liberal Democrat candidate Jane Dodds the best chance of winning the seat. (Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)
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Some Conservative commentators blamed the Brexit Party for splitting the "pro-Brexit vote" – as together their vote share amounted to 49%, more than the Lib Dems.

Tory chairman James Cleverly said it was "disappointing to lose a parliamentary colleague" but, attempted to put a brave face on the defeat.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today: "What we saw was a very close result in a by-election in which the Lib Dems were expected to romp home comfortably."

Mr Davies won the seat from the Lib Dems in 2015 and secured a majority of 8,038 in the 2017 general election.

But the loss leaves the PM with the support of 319 MPs, including the DUP which props up his majority, while opposition parties now have 318.

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