Voters in North Shropshire will head to their nearest polling stations on Thursday (16 December) to vote for their next representative in Parliament.
Following the resignation of Owen Paterson last month, the Conservative will hope to hold on to what was not long ago considered a solidly safe seat, but now seems at risk due to the nature of Paterson’s resignation and the many scandals currently dogging Downing Street.
Who is standing in the North Shropshire by-election?
- Suzie Akers-Smith, Independent
- UKIP, Andrea Allen
- Rejoin EU, Boris Been Bunged
- Reclaim Party, Martin Daubney
- Party Party, Russell Dean
- Heritage, James Elliot
- Monster Raving Loony, Alan “Howling Laud” Hope
- Freedom Alliance, Earl Jesse
- Independent, Yolande Kenward
- Green, Duncan Kerr
- Liberal Democrats, Helen Morgan
- Conservative, Neil Shastri-Hurst
- Reform UK, Kirsty Walmsley
- Labour, Ben Wood
When will the result be announced?
Polls will be open in North Shropshire from 7am until 10pm, with campaigners likely to spend the last few hours trying to get out the vote.
Despite the massive majority the result is expected to be relatively tight and with turnouts generally low in by-elections, every vote will be decisive.
The result will likely be announced in the early hours of Friday morning (17 December).
How was North Shropshire voted in the past?
In its current form the constituency was established in 1983, with only one MP, Conservative John Biffen, holding the seat before its last occupant, Owen Paterson.
The seat has been considered relatively safe for the Tories since the 80’s, only dipping below a 20% majority in the 1997 and 2001 Labour landslides.
Paterson, who was elected the year Tony Blair’s New Labour project got underway, inherited a historically low 4.2% majority which he increased in every election since, apart from 2017, to over 40% by 2019.
Although the Conservatives did suffer a shock by-election defeat in Chesham and Amersham, with the Liberal Democrats overturning a 29% majority, many have argued it is less likely in North Shropshire, which unlike Chesham and Amersham voted to leave Europe in 2016.
Also unlike Chesham and Amersham, Labour has been the second party in North Shropshire in most elections since 1997
The Liberal Democrats already had a significant foothold in Chesham and Amersham, having reduced the Conservatives vote-share with an increased tally in 2019, but Labour dropped votes in North Shropshire in that election.
In recent years voters have been less likely to change from Conservative to Labour than Conservative to Liberal Democrat.
These factors have led to speculation that the Liberal Democrats may in fact be best placed to beat the Conservatives in North Shropshire.
What were the results in 2019?
- Conservative, Owen Paterson, 35,444, 62.7%, +2.2
- Labour, Graeme Currie, 12,495, 22.1%, -9.0
- Liberal Democrats, Helen Morgan, 5,643, 10.0%, +4.7
- Green, John Adams, 1,790, 3.2%, +0.1
- Shropshire Party, Robert Jones, 1,141, 2.0%
Why did Owen Paterson resign?
Former North Shropshire MP Owen Paterson resigned from Parliament in November following a report which found that he had committed “egregious” acts of paid lobbying on behalf of two private firms which employed him as an adviser.
The report, which was put together by the Independent Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards and approved by the Committee on Standards, recommended that Paterson be suspended for 30 days, which could have potentially led to a by-election if enough constituents signed a recall petition.
However, the government launched an unprecedented move to block the motion for Paterson’s suspension and overhaul the Committee on Standards, in a move widely interpreted as being designed to spare Owen Paterson’s suspension.
Soon afterwards Paterson announced his resignation.