North Shropshire by-election: Lib Dems secure shock win against Tories in bruising loss for Boris Johnson

The Liberal Democrats overturned a huge Tory majority to win the North Shropshire by-election

The Liberal Democrats secured a shock win in the North Shropshire by-election, overturning a huge Tory majority that will put more pressure on Boris Johnson.

The Conservatives lost what was considered an ultra-safe seat to Lib Dem candidate Helen Morgan by 5,925 votes.

Mrs Morgan won 17,957 votes in total ahead of Tory candidate Neil Shastri-Hurst who came in second on 12,032.

Labour’s Ben Wood came in at a distant third with 3,686.

The Liberal Democrats secured a shock win in the North Shropshire by-election (Photo: PA)

‘The party is over’

Speaking after her win, Mrs Morgan said in her victory speech: “Tonight, the people of North Shropshire have spoken on behalf of the British people.

“They have said loudly and clearly, ‘Boris Johnson, the party is over’.

“Your Government, run on lies and bluster, will be held accountable.

“It will be scrutinised, it will be challenged and it can and will be defeated.”

The victory marks another blow to the Prime Minister’s authority with the swing to the Lib Dems a huge 34% in the ballot which was triggered by the resignation of Owen Paterson following a lobbying scandal.

The former minister had a near 23,000 majority in the West Midlands constituency in the 2019 general election, but support for the Conservatives has waned in the area after multiple damning allegations.

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Not only was the vote triggered by the sleaze scandal centred on Mr Paterson, it came after the Prime Minister has been plagued by claims of breaching lockdown rules at parties in Downing Street.

The defeat also comes after Mr Johnson faced a rebellion from Conservative backbenchers earlier this week over his new Covid-19 restrictions in response to the Omicron variant.

Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey, in a statement from isolation after testing positive for Covid-19, said: “This result is a watershed moment in our politics and offers hope to people around the country that a brighter future is possible.

“Millions of people are fed up with Boris Johnson and his failure to provide leadership throughout the pandemic and last night the voters of North Shropshire spoke for all of them.

“From Buckinghamshire to Shropshire, lifelong Conservatives have turned to the Liberal Democrats in their droves and sent a clear message to the Prime Minister that the party is over.”

A bruising loss for the Tories

North Shropshire had returned a Tory MP in every vote since 1983, and has only twice voted for another party since the Conservative Party’s inception in 1830.

Mr Paterson represented the constituency for 24 years until his resignation after the Prime Minister’s botched attempt to shield him from a 30-day suspension.

Mr Johnson attempted to force a Tory-led review of the rules for MPs after Mr Paterson was found to have breached lobbying rules for two companies paying him £100,000 a year.

He was later forced to resign, saying he wanted to escape the “cruel world of politics”.

Speaking after his defeat, Mr Shastri-Hurst said: “We’ve run a positive campaign here, I’m extremely proud of the work that everybody’s done.

“Of course it’s a disappointing result for us.

“We’re 11 years into a Conservative government, by-elections are never an easy thing to do.”

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