Jane Dodds, of the Liberal Democrats, has emerged victorious in the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election, with a majority of just 1,4235 votes. That reveals a swing to the Liberal Democrats of over +14.4%, in a turnout of 59.72%. This was the highest by-election turnout since 1997, when there was a turnout of 68.7% in Winchester. The result means that Prime Minister Boris Johnson now only has a working majority, including the confidence and supply agreement with the DUP, of just 1 seat. It also means that the Liberal Democrats now have 13 MPs.
The by-election was called as a result of 10,000 constituents signing a recall petition. This was due to former Conservative MP Chris Davies having been convicted of expenses fraud. Chris Davies’ majority from the 2017 General Election was 8,038.
Brecon and Radnorshire voted to Leave the EU in the 2016 referendum by 51.86%. However, the Liberal Democrats formed an anti-Brexit alliance for this by-election, which meant that Plaid Cymru and the Greens agreed to not stand. While Labour did not form a part of this agreement, their votes – a total of 5.3%, only just earned them their deposit back. Therefore, Labour was probably seen as unlikely to make a difference in a seat which has in recent times consistently swung between the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives. Labour has not held this seat since they lost it in 1979. Arguably, however, the split between the ‘pro’ and ‘anti’ Brexit parties totalled a higher percentage in favour of Brexit still, as the Conservatives, the Brexit Party and UKIP combined figures a total of 50.3% of the vote.
Another minor point to note is that the Monster Raving Loony Party outpolled UKIP, as the MRLP earned a full 1% of the vote, compared to UKIP’s 0.8%.