Amersham Defeat Crisis Hits Tories

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Concerns over the HS2 raillink along with planning reforms over housebuilding turned vote away from the Tories

THE TORY government has been plunged into crisis by last Thursday’s Amersham by-election defeat.

Around 100 Tory MPs have reportedly joined a WhatsApp group called Planning Concern to lobby against building homes in their constituencies, while others are pointing at Boris Johnson and accusing him of being ‘Labour-lite’ and demanding a return to Thatcherism.

Writing in The Daily Telegraph, the co-chairman of the Tory Party, Amanda Milling said voters’ concerns over planning reforms for England and the HS2 rail link had been heard ‘loud and clear’ after the LibDems won the Chesham and Amersham by-election.

She said the Conservatives would look at how they could regain their trust.

Milling said ministers needed to ‘shout louder’ about Johnson’s promise to ‘level up’ the UK.

The Liberal Democrats overturned a 16,000 majority in Thursday’s by-election to take a seat that had always voted Conservative. Sarah Green won with 8,028 more votes than the Conservatives, with the Green Party in third place.

Local opposition to the HS2 high-speed rail line being built through the constituency and the government’s proposed changes to the planning system, which could see more homes being built in rural areas, were major factors in the poll.

Former environment secretary Theresa Villiers said ministers should see the by-election loss ‘as an opportunity to rethink their approach to planning reform’.

Meanwhile, John Bercow, the former Tory MP and Speaker of the House of Commons, announced yesterday that he has joined the Labour Party and delivered an extraordinary broadside against Johnson.

He said the Conservative Party is ‘reactionary, populist, nationalistic and sometimes even xenophobic’.

Bercow claimed: ‘There is growing, extensive and incontrovertible evidence that the government is disrespecting Parliament, telling untruths to Parliament and bypassing Parliament. That is wrong. Period.’

After leaving the position of Speaker and failing to be nominated for the House of Lords as is usual, Bercow claimed in 2020 that there was a Tory Party ‘conspiracy’ to deny him a peerage.

Asked yesterday if there is a possibility of his now being recommended for a peerage by Labour leader Starmer, Bercow claimed: ‘There has been no such discussion and I have asked for no such thing. This isn’t about revenge. That is not what motivates me.’