(Bloomberg) -- The U.K.’s ruling Conservatives won their first electoral test after an especially bruising period for Boris Johnson’s government, holding the parliamentary seat of Old Bexley and Sidcup in a vote announced early Friday.
The Tories won with a majority of 4,478 votes in the district southeast of London. Former Conservative cabinet minister James Brokenshire, whose death this year triggered the special election, had a majority of 18,952 when he won in 2019.
Few expected anything but a comfortable Tory win in affluent Old Bexley, given its demographics and history -- it was once the seat of former Prime Minister Edward Heath and has been Conservative-held since it was formed in 1983.
But a turbulent month in Parliament had piled the pressure on Johnson to prove he was still an electoral winner. His personal approval rating has plummeted following a series of missteps and Tory rebellions on key government policies, while his party has also dropped in national opinion polls.
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Amid the turmoil, Conservative strategists took nothing for granted even in the so-called safe seat of Old Bexley. The premier campaigned in the district, as did other government big-hitters Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak and Home Secretary Priti Patel.
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