The Conservative Party chairman today insisted Boris Johnson has not lost his “star quality” after their majority was slashed in a by-election.
Oliver Dowden said he was “not worried” by Labour after the Tories’ majority in Old Bexley and Sidcup was reduced from almost 19,000 to just 4,478.
It comes after Labour claimed a 10 per cent swing over to them showed they were “winning back the trust of people”.
Tory Louie French won the election with a 51.4 per cent share of the vote, compared with Labour’s 30.8 per cent.
Asked if he was worried the shine was coming off Johnson among some voters, Dowden told Times Radio: “When I was up there with with Boris he still had the same traffic stopping ability - literally.
“He tried to enter the campaign HQ at which point a load of teenage boys on the top of a red bus started shouting and screaming out the window, people charged out from everywhere.
“I don’t think Boris has lost any of his star quality. But of course the government has to continue to improve its game.”
A fantastic 10.3% swing to Labour in the Conservative heartland of Old Bexley and Sidcup. If replicated at a general election Labour would be within reach of forming a majority government. https://t.co/ZffINcgXul
— Ellie Reeves (@elliereeves) December 3, 2021
It comes after Johnson’s handling of Covid, sleaze allegations and parties at Downing Street during lockdown were mentioned on the doorstep.
Labour’s Ellie Reeves said: “A fantastic 10.3 per cent swing to Labour in the Conservative heartland of Old Bexley and Sidcup.
“If replicated at a general election Labour would be within reach of forming a majority government.”
However, Dowden said he was “really not terribly worried about Labour” and it was a “good result” for a governing party mid-term.
He told Sky News: “We actually secured over 50 per cent of the vote in Bexley.
“This idea that Labour have made some surge ahead is really for the birds. They’ve actually got about the same vote share as they secured under Jeremy Corbyn in 2017.
“Keir Starmer couldn’t even be bothered to turn up to the by-election, so I am really not terribly worried about Labour.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.