British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has come under increased pressure after his Conservative Party lost its traditional safe haven in favor of Liberal Democrats due to a slew of scandals and internal disagreements over the COVID-19 measures.
Liberal Democratic candidate Helen Morgan received 17,957 votes, 5,925 ahead of Conservative candidate Neil Shastri-Hirst. It was a huge 34% turnaround in favor of the Liberal Democrats, placing an extremely safe spot for the Conservatives, who won nearly 23,000 votes in the 2019 general election.
In her victory speech, 46-year-old accountant Morgan said that voters in North Shropshire “said loudly and clearly, ‘Boris Johnson, the party is over! “” She said the Johnson government is driven by “lies and bragging rights.” and he “will be defeated.”
Liberal Democratic leader Sir Ed Davey called the by-election results “a watershed moment” in British politics. “From Buckinghamshire to Shropshire, conservatives have been reaching out to Liberal Democrats in droves throughout their lives and have made it clear to the Prime Minister that the party is over,” he said.
Johnson said the result was “very disappointing” and he takes “personal responsibility” for the defeat.
Speaking during a visit to a vaccination center in Hillingdon, he said he had failed to “get the message across” about the vaccine deployment and had allowed it to be covered up with a “constant list of things about politics and politics.”
The vote was initiated by the resignation of Conservative MP Owen Paterson, who represented the district for 24 years until he was forced to leave in November due to a lobbying violation.
The Johnson government has been accused of “corruption” and “wallowing in meanness” after unsuccessfully trying to rescue Paterson by trying to rethink disciplinary procedures for MPs.
Darker headlines followed shortly after that Johnson was facing an investigation into alleged Downing Street parties during the lockdown and was struggling to counter accusations of lying about how the renovation of his Downing Street apartment was financed.
The prime minister’s credibility was further eroded Tuesday when 100 Conservative MPs challenged his leadership by voting against mandatory COVID passes for major venues – the largest uprising since he ranked 10th.
Commenting on the by-election defeat, Conservative Party chairman Oliver Dowden admitted that voters had hit the government, but insisted Johnson had a vision of how to get them out of a difficult period.
But veteran Conservative MP Sir Roger Gale said the vote should be viewed as a “referendum” on Johnson’s activities and warned that the prime minister “is now following up on final orders.”
“The Conservative Party has a reputation for not taking prisoners. If the prime minister is defeated, the prime minister leaves, ”he told BBC Radio 4 Today.
Another senior defender, Sir Charles Walker, called for caution and insisted that now is not the time for an internal struggle for leadership.
The leadership challenge, as the country faces potential further CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus restrictions, “would be totally self-indulgent,” he told Today.
PA contributed to this report.