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North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale reacts to Oliver Dowden's resignation and by-election losses

North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale Has renewed his call on the Prime Minister to consider his position after the party’s defeat in two by-elections and the resignation of a cabinet member.

Oliver Dowden resigned as chairman of the Conservative party following the double defeat.

Sir Roger Gale, a vocal opponent to the Prime Minister said Mr Dowden had "clearly decided that he can no longer defend the indefensible."

Asked where the party was following the loss of two seats, he said: “ It leaves the party in a not very happy position.

"The people of the West Country have sent a very clear message of no confidence in the Prime Minister. We have to recognise that.

“An honourable Prime Minister would even at this stage consider his position. He won't do it but he should.”

Cabinet ministers would have to decide individually or collectively how they responded, he added.

Oliver Dowden has stepped down as party chairman
Oliver Dowden has stepped down as party chairman

“ Oliver Dowden has made his position quite clear; he cannot defend the indefensible and the Prime Minister is indefensible.”

“ This is about the reputation of the party for decency and honesty. It is about the soul of our party,” he told Radio 4 Today.

Mr Dowden was due to speak to a number of national news outlets this morning following the by-election results.

Instead, he submitted his letter of resignation saying the by-elections “are the latest in a run of very poor results for our party”.

It read: “Our supporters are distressed and disappointed by recent events, and I share their feelings.

“We cannot carry on with business as usual. Somebody must take responsibility and I have concluded that, in these circumstances, it would not be right for me to remain in office.”

The MP ended his letter by saying: “I want to emphasise that this is a deeply personal decision that I have taken alone.

“I will, as always, remain loyal to the Conservative Party.”

The man who led Boris Johnson’s leadership campaign in Kent has echoed Mr Gale, saying the party needed to install a new leader to keep Labour from winning the next election.

Andrew Kennedy, a county councillor, said:“I'm deeply saddened that rather than living up to our best hopes, he has lived down to our worst fears and last night's elections indicate that in my view, the Conservative Party has very little hope of keeping Starmer out of Downing Street without a change of leader.

“What really worries me is not these middle class that seats rebel, but we have always on my wing of the party fooled ourselves that Boris is still very popular in the north and in the red wall seats and last night’s events took away that illusion.”

In Tiverton and Honiton the Liberal Democrats overturned a 24,000 Tory majority to win, while Labour reclaimed Wakefield.

The contests, triggered by the resignation of disgraced Tories, offered voters the chance to give their verdict on the Prime Minister just weeks after 41% of his own MPs cast their ballots against him.

Sir Roger Gale. Picture: Tony Flashman
Sir Roger Gale. Picture: Tony Flashman

A Tory source said it was a “disappointing but not unexpected result” and “we are confident we will regain this seat at the next general election”.

Mr Johnson, who is at a Commonwealth leaders’ summit in Rwanda, suggested it would be “crazy” for him to quit if the party lost the two seats and said mid-term by-elections were “never necessarily easy for any government”.

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