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Oliver Dowden resigns as chairman of the Conservative Party after losing the midterm elections Conservatives

Written by Javed Iqbal

Oliver Dowden has resigned as Conservative chairman after the party catastrophic double midterm loss in Wakefield and in Tiverton and Honiton, saying that someone “must take responsibility” for a recent series of poor results.

Tory MP’s farewell letter, also sent in a tweet, comes after the party lost two seats it had had in a single night. Labor took Wakefield and Liberal Democrats overturned a 24,000-plus majority to snatch Tiverton and Honiton.

“Yesterday’s parliamentary by – elections are the latest in a series of very poor results for our party,” Dowden wrote in a letter to Boris Johnson. “Our supporters are saddened and disappointed by the recent events, and I share their feelings.

“We can not continue with business as usual. Someone must take responsibility and I have concluded that in these circumstances it would not be right for me to remain in office.”

He added: “Finally, I want to emphasize that this is a deeply personal decision that I have made alone.”

Dowden’s role as party chairman was combined with a post as minister without portfolio, sitting in the cabinet. He had previously been cultural secretary under Johnson. He co-chaired with Ben Elliot, who primarily focuses on fundraising.

In his letter, he paid tribute to party members and volunteers and wrote, “They are the backbone of our great party and deserve better than this.”

The MP for Hertsmere in Hertfordshire took over the role in September last year, shortly after the Tories suffered the major election shock of losing the formerly secure commuter belt constituency. Chesham and Amersham to the Liberal Democrats.

But during his tenure, in December last year, the Lib Dems toppled a majority of nearly 23,000 to win the North Shropshire by-electionafter former incumbent Owen Paterson resigned over a lobbying scandal.

In May, the party too did extremely poorly by local election and lost hundreds of councilors and a number of flagship councils, including Wandsworth, Westminster and The Child of London, the latter two for the first time since their inception in 1964.

While the letter stressed that Dowden took responsibility for all of this, his decision to step down puts more implicit pressure on Johnson, who narrowly won a vote of confidence among his own MPs earlier this month and could face a renewed challenge in the fall.

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Javed Iqbal

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