Oliver Dowden resigns as Conservative chair after byelection losses

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Oliver Dowden resigns as Conservative chair after byelection losses

Oliver Dowden resigned as the Conservative chair after the party's disastrous double byelection losses in Wakefield and in Tiverton and Honiton, saying someone must take responsibility for a recent run of poor results.

The resignation letter from the Tory MP was sent in a tweet after the party lost two seats it had held in a single night. Labour took Wakefield and the Liberal Democrats overturned a 24,000 plus majority to snatch Tiverton and Honiton.

Yesterday s parliamentary elections were the latest in a run of very poor results for our party, according to Dowden in a letter to Boris Johnson. Our supporters are distressed and disappointed by recent events, and I share their feelings.

We can't carry on with business as usual. I have concluded that it would not be right to remain in office in these circumstances because somebody must take responsibility and that's why I think it would be right to do so. He added that this is a deeply personal decision that I have taken alone. Dowden's role as party chair was combined with a position as minister without portfolio, sitting in the cabinet. He had been culture secretary under Johnson. He co-chaired alongside Ben Elliot, who focuses on fundraising primarily.

In his letter he paid tribute to party members and volunteers, he wrote: They are the backbone of our great party and deserve better than this. In September of last year, the MP for Hertsmere in Hertfordshire took over the role, shortly after the Tories suffered the major electoral shock of losing the previously safe commuter-belt constituency of Chesham and Amersham to the Liberal Democrats.

In December last year, the Lib Dems overturned a majority of nearly 23,000 to win the North Shropshire election, after Owen Paterson, the former incumbent, left over a lobbying scandal.

In May, the party lost hundreds of councillors and a number of flagship councils, including Wandsworth, Westminster and Barnet in London, the latter two for the first time since their creation in 1964, as well as losing hundreds of councillors and a number of flagship councils, including Wandsworth, Westminster and Barnet in London.

While the letter stressed that Dowden was responsible for all this, his decision to step down places more implicit pressure on Johnson, who narrowly won a confidence vote among his MPs earlier this month and could face a renewed challenge in the autumn.