North Shropshire by-election: Conservatives beaten by Lib Dems
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Tory MPs have been left bruised after losing the North Shropshire by-election with one of the biggest swings ever recorded. The Conservatives’ near-23,000 majority in the seat was overturned by the Liberal Democrats with a majority of 5,925.
The ultra-safe seat has been represented by a Tory MP for 200 years.
Hit by the dramatic loss, senior Conservatives are now warning Mr Johnson he must act quickly to get a grip of the party or face being ousted as Prime Minister.
“This is clearly his last chance. Really he’s got to do something about it,” one former Cabinet minister told Express.co.uk.
“This isn’t just my view, it’s the view of the mass of colleagues I speak to.
“I think there needs to be a wholesale clearcut at No10, he needs a new chief of staff, and he also needs to reconnect with the Parliamentary party by taking advice from senior colleagues – and maybe not so senior but sensible people – and doing that on a regular, structured basis.
“There are lots of people who could have given him good advice and avoided the problems of the last few months.”
A series of gaffes, broken promises, and accusations of lockdown breaking parties in No10 over the last two months have been blamed for the loss.
And the defeat will cap a torrid week which included the massive rebellion Conservative backbenchers dealt Mr Johnson on Tuesday over his new coronavirus restrictions as the Omicron variant surged.
Ms Morgan won 17,957 votes, trouncing Tory candidate Neil Shastri-Hurst into second on 12,032.
The MP told this website Mr Johnson is still in his role because “I don’t honestly think there is any obvious challenger to him”.
Meanwhile, long-serving Conservative MP Sir Roger Gale went on record to say the North Shropshire by-election defeat should be seen as a “referendum” on Boris Johnson’s premiership.
The North Thanet MP told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The electorate wanted to send a very clear message to Downing Street that they were dissatisfied with the management of this Government.
“I think this has to be seen as a referendum on the Prime Minister’s performance and I think that the Prime Minister is now in ‘last orders’ time.
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“Two strikes already, one earlier this week in the vote in the Commons and now this.
“One more strike and he’s out.”
MP Sir Charles Walker, vice-chairman of the 1922 committee that organises leadership elections, said the current Covid situation would likely save Mr Johnson for a challenge.
Sir Charles said: “The Conservative Party is not going to have a leadership challenge as we are heading into potential further restrictions around Covid, and difficulties around Covid.
“That would be completely self-indulgent.”
Discussing the reasons behind the loss, the Broxbourne MP added: “People are tired, angry, exhausted, [after] 20 months of a pandemic.
“It’s put Government under the microscope, mistakes have been made.”
Defending the Prime Minister, Conservative Party chairman Oliver Dowden said while understood “voters’ frustrations” he did not believe the by-election result “amounts to a sea change”.
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