Chairman of Britain’s ruling Conservatives quits after twin by-elections defeat

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The chairman of Britain’s ruling Conservatives quit on Friday after the party lost two parliamentary by-elections, including in a southwest English seat it had previously held for over a century.

“Somebody must take responsibility and I have concluded that, in these circumstances, it would not be right for me to remain in office,” Oliver Dowden wrote in a resignation letter to Prime Minister and Tory leader Boris Johnson.

The defeats, including one in a previously safe seat, could renew speculation about Johnson’s future after he earlier this month survived one move by Conservative lawmakers against him.

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Johnson has come under intense pressure to resign after he was fined for breaking COVID-19 lockdown rules after a police investigation into gatherings at his Downing Street offices.

Johnson led the Conservatives to their biggest majority in three decades at the 2019 national election, winning praise from his party for his ability to win in traditionally Labor-voting areas in north and central England.

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