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UK PM Boris Johnson suffers first leadership blow in by-election

On Tuesday, Johnson dropped by the region to help out Chris Davies — a Conservative MP who was forced to step down after becoming embroiled in an expenses scandal.

SNS | New Delhi |

As a prime minister, UK’s Boris Johnson lost his first test on Friday after his candidate edged out by a pro-EU rival in a by-election that slims his parliamentary majority to one.

On Tuesday, Johnson dropped by the region to help out Chris Davies — a Conservative MP who was forced to step down after becoming embroiled in an expenses scandal.

Davies who has protested his innocence and contested the seat again but the Liberal Democrats’ Jane Dodds received 13,826 votes to Davies’ 12,401 after having two smaller pro-EU parties back her bid.

Its firm stand against Britain’s split from the European Union saw it come a surprise second behind populist eurosceptic Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party in the European Parliament elections in May.

“My very first act as MP when I arrive in Westminster will be to find Boris Johnson wherever he is hiding and tell him loud and clear — stop playing with the futures of our communities and rule out no-deal Brexit,” a visibly relieved Dodds said.

Finance minister Sajid Javid announced on Wednesday that an extra £2.1 billion ($2.6 billion, 2.3 billion euros) to prepare for leaving without an agreement.

He further said, “We have to be prepared because we will be leaving on October 31”.

The main opposition Labour Party’s finance spokesman John McDonnell branded the funding an “appalling waste of taxpayers cash”.

The Labour MP who heads parliament’s spending watchdog also pledged to investigate how the money was being spent.

On Monday, Johnson visited Scotland for responding to independence calls from Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon by saying that the United Kingdom represented a “global brand.

He also visited Wales as part of the whistlestop tour of the United Kingdom designed to signal his commitment to keeping the union whole after Brexit.

In his first speech as Prime Minister on July 24, Johnson pledged to bring Britain out of the EU by October 31, saying “no ifs, no buts”. He also warned that there would be a hard Brexit if the EU refused to renegotiate the withdrawal agreement.

Johnson’s government is trying to boost its negotiating hand with Brussels by showing that the country is ready for any outcome.