Why Wakefield by-election could be the end of Johnson - Brian Wilson

A dubious legend protecting Boris Johnson is that his unique genius as the toff with the common touch won the Tories their 80 seat majority.

Certainly, he was the master opportunist who took full advantage of Labour’s vulnerability in post-industrial areas that voted in favour of leaving the EU, without any clear view – other than through the lies Mr Johnson purveyed – of what would happen next.

That phase has passed and the Red Wall seats, like the rest of the country, are still waiting to see any tangible benefits of Brexit while many are noticing that the EU-led funding which flowed to disadvantaged areas is no longer there. Levelling up is tough when funding is being levelled down.

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However, the biggest factor which is now omitted from the script of those who sing Johnson’s praises is that he was up against Jeremy Corbyn for whom large numbers Labour people could not bring themselves to vote. Johnson’s chutzpah and Brexit gave them an easy rationale for not doing so.

That thesis will be put to the test in the Wakefield by-election on June 23rd. Take out the Brexit and Corbyn factors and what happens next? If the answer is a massive swing back to Labour, the writing will be on the Red Wall and the emperor will have lost the last of his clothes.

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Johnson’s long-established reputation for mendacity was briefly trumped by his image as a winner. The moment that changes, the Tories will still find a way to get rid of him.

Boris Johnson's leadership will face a massive test on June 23 at the Wakefield by-election given the factors which led to a Conservative MP being elected in traditional Labour territory in 2019 are no longer there, writes Brian WIlson.

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