Pretty much every Thursday of the year, the results of by-elections to local Councils trickle through largely unnoticed by the wider world. It has to be said right from the get-go that local factors do play a big part in their outcome so the rest of this piece, in some ways, comes with that health warning.
However, Boris Johnson might have occasion to be concerned by one such result from this Thursday. It comes from Torksey which is in West Lindsey which is a small village in Lincolnshire. Bo Jo’s Conservatives held the seat with 35% of the vote but only by the skin of their teeth (it was down 22%) as the Brexit Party surged 28%. This put Nigel Farage’s Party in third place just behind the Liberal Democrats in second on 32% of the vote.
Torksey (West Lindsey) result:
CON: 35.7% (-22.9)
LDEM: 32.6% (-8.8)
BREX: 28.2% (+28.2)
LAB: 3.5% (+3.5)
— Britain Elects (@britainelects) 25 October 2019
In national polls, the Conservatives are seemingly in a comfortable position and the seemingly inevitable extension to Article 50 seems not to have damaged the Conservatives thus far. Nonetheless, the Brexit Party is not going away a solid 12% (ish) is a figure that can be built upon if the publics’ mood happens to change and people do start to blame Mr Johnson for the delay.
Torksey also raises the specter of the Brexit Party doing well enough to deprive the Conservatives of the first spot. This presents Brexiteers with their own tactical voting dilemma but it is also one of Boris’s own making since he has consistently spat on any kind of deal with the Brexit Party and the content of his Withdrawal Agreement, which is substantially the same as the one Mrs May brought back, has made one virtually impossible in any case.
As I said at the beginning, on one level, it is hard to extrapolate from one solitary local by-election result but Torksey does show previous Conservative voters are more than willing to turn on Boris and back Nigel Farage if Mr Johnson does not deliver.