North Shropshire By-Election: Lib Dems Win In Humiliation For Tories

More problems for Boris Johnson as the Conservatives lose seat the party has held since its inception in 1983.
The Liberal Democrat's Helen Morgan arriving at Shrewsbury Sports Village where the count for the North Shropshire by-election was being held.
The Liberal Democrat's Helen Morgan arriving at Shrewsbury Sports Village where the count for the North Shropshire by-election was being held.
Jacob King via PA Wire/PA Images

The Liberal Democrats have pulled off a remarkable victory in the North Shropshire by-election – beating the the Tories and overturning a majority of almost 23,000 gained just two years ago.

In one of the great political upsets of recent British history, Lib Dem Helen Morgan beat the Conservative candidate Neil Shastri-Hurst by 5,925 votes.

Morgan won 17,957 votes, trouncing Shastri-Hurst into second on 12,032. The swing to the Lib Dems was a massive 34%.

The Tory defeat means a bigger headache for Boris Johnson in a by-election that was triggered by the resignation of Owen Paterson.

Morgan said: “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.”

Paterson quit after the shambles of Tory attempts to spare the former Cabinet minister from a 30-day suspension – a move that prompted the row over second jobs and was the first in series of crises to engulf Johnson’s administration.

Just this week the PM faced the biggest Tory rebellion of his time at No.10 as around 100 of his MPs voted against his ‘Plan B’ Covid restrictions.

Not only was the vote triggered by a Tory sleaze scandal, it comes after the prime minister was battered by allegations of lockdown-breaching parties in Downing Street last Christmas.

To put the Lib Dem victory in context, the Tories won 62.7% of the vote and held the seat with a majority of 22,949 over Labour in the 2019 general election, with the Lib Dems in third.

And Paterson represented the constituency for 24 years until his resignation – reflecting how the rural constituency was considered a “safe” seat.

North Shropshire has returned a Tory MP in every vote since 1983, which was the constituency’s first election in its current form.

But the area has been true blue, only twice voting for another colour, since the Conservative Party’s inception in 1830.

It also represents the second by-election loss of a former Tory stronghold to the Lib Dems since the general election.

Chesham and Amersham had been a Conservative stronghold since the constituency’s creation in 1974, but the Lib Dems seized it with a 25% swing from the Tories in July.

Morgan, a 46-year-old accountant who lives in the Shropshire village of Harmer Hill, will become the newest MP having beaten Shastri-Hurst, a barrister based in Birmingham.

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.”


What's Hot