Former Tory MP Neil Parish, whose porn scandal sparked a by-election, says Boris Johnson ‘living in a parallel universe’ | Political news

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The former Tory MP who quit after watching pornography in parliament says the public had ‘largely recovered’ from what he had done and his resignation had not helped the party, following his defeat humiliating in the by-elections.

Neil Parish – whose resignation sparked the Tiverton and Honiton by-elections – told Sky News that people in the constituency had voted against a “very unpopular prime minister” who “lives in a parallel universe”.

Conservatives have seen a majority of 24,000, or 40.6%, evaporate in the Devon seat – a record setback for the party – as the Liberal Democrats triumphed.

The Conservatives also lost the Wakefield Labor Party by-election – with the results encouraging the Resignation of Conservative party chairman Oliver Dowden.

Election live: Boris Johnson vows to ‘carry on’ after being asked to reflect on his position

Speaking to Sky political correspondent Ali Fortescue, Mr Parish said: ‘All credit goes to the Lib Dems for their victory, but it’s a combination of our vote dropping dramatically, people changing, people who stay at home and a very unpopular Prime Minister, which people tactically voted against.

“I feel responsible in that I had to leave. I made a very stupid and serious mistake, but I did the honorable thing and left.

“I thought it would help the party, but on reflection I think it’s not because I think a lot of people in the constituency think, ‘We like Neil, we thought he was very stupid but he did the honorable thing – what about the Prime Minister?’.

“He (the Prime Minister) has many qualities. The problem is that he can’t just continue to live in a parallel universe, there has to be a reality.”

Mr Parish said he believed he still had “a lot to offer”, adding: “I could fight forever, but who am I beating? Just myself – because the public has evolved.

“I think they’ve largely gotten over it. I think they thought I was stupid but they accepted my resignation and so life is for living.

“I think we have to be realistic and listen to what people are saying.”

Mr Parish said he believed Tory MPs would be ‘concerned’ about the results of the by-election.

“Politicians like to be re-elected, they like to have people in place to make sure that happens,” he added.

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Mr Parish resigned last month after admitting to watching pornography in the House of Commons.

The 65-year-old farmer has watched adult material in parliament twice, saying the first time was accidental after watching tractors online, but the second was “a moment of madness”.

He originally vowed to remain MP for Tiverton and Honiton but said he would step down after acknowledging the “fury” and “damage” he was causing his family and his constituency.

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