Boris Johnson has suffered another blow to his authority as British Prime Minister after the Tories collapsed in the face of a heavy defeat in the by-elections in North Shropshire, the Tory seat for nearly 200 years.
The Liberal Democrats overturned a majority of 23,000 Tories to win the rural Brexit seat by a margin of nearly 6,000 votes, completing a calamitous end of 2021 for Johnson.
Johnson will now face further Tory questions over his leadership, after weeks of self-inflicted mistakes and a record-breaking rebellion of around 100 Tory MPs this week over his Covid policy.
Sir Ed Davey, leader of the Liberal Democrats, said on Friday morning that “the party is over” for Johnson, a reference to reports of last year’s Christmas parties hosted by the Prime Minister’s staff in violation of Covid rules.
Helen Morgan, Lib Dem candidate, won 17,957 votes, ahead of Tories’ Neil Shastri-Hurst, out of 12,032, a majority of 5,925. Ben Wood of Labor was third, with 3,686 votes. The participation rate was 46.3%.
Davey called his party’s victory a “defining moment in our politics” that offers “hope” to voters across the country “that a better future is possible.”
The by-election was prompted by the resignation of former minister Owen Paterson, who resigned after a corruption scandal, and the Conservatives’ campaign at headquarters was dominated by criticism of the prime minister.