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Raab says ‘distraction’ of partygate to blame for two by-election defeats

Deputy prime minister Dominic Raab has claimed the “distraction” of the partygate scandal was partly to blame for two devastating by-elections defeats for the Conservatives.

The Tory party chairman Oliver Dowden resigned within hours of the results, with a swipe at what he described as “recent events” and saying that “someone must take responsibility”.

But Mr Raab tried to brush aside the affair which has plunged his party into chaos, describing it as one of a series of “distractions” which lost the party votes.

On a visit to Rwanda, Boris Johnson also pledged he would “keep going” despite the blow to his authority just weeks after nearly 150 of his own MPs voted to oust him from Downing Street.

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