Boris Johnson suffered a setback in his first ballot box test as British prime minister on Friday after the Conservative candidate lost to a pro-EU rival in a by-election that slims his parliamentary majority to one.
In the Conservatives' first electoral test since Johnson became prime minister nine days ago, the party was defeated for the seat of Brecon and Radnorshire in Wales by Jane Dodds of the opposition Liberal Democrats. Dodds won 43% of the vote, while Conservative Chris Davies, who was fighting to retain the seat after being convicted and fined for expenses fraud, came in at 39%. The result makes it harder for Johnson's government to pass laws and win votes in Parliament, with Brexit scheduled to take place in less than three months.
Johnson's newly formed government is trying to force Brussels to return to the negotiating table by insisting Britain is ready to leave the EU without a deal on the latest delayed departure date of October 31. Finance minister Sajid Javid announced Wednesday an extra £2.1 billion ($2.6 billion) in funding to prepare for such an eventuality. But Bank of England governor Mark Carney said Friday a "no-deal" Brexit would be a shock for the country's economy, causing supply disruption and potentially undermining entire sectors such as the auto industry and agriculture. Meanwhile an official government document obtained by Sky News warned of potential "consumer panic" and gaps in security within weeks. Such fears have already pushed the British pound to its lowest levels since Britons first voted to leave the EU in June 2016.