Boris Johnson Takes 'Personal Responsibility' For North Shropshire Defeat

The prime minister says he "understands people’s frustrations".
TOLGA AKMEN via Getty Images

Boris Johnson said he takes “personal responsibility” for the Tories’ North Shropshire by-election loss.

Speaking for the first time since the result was announced in the early hours of Friday morning, the prime minister said it was “disappointing”.

“I totally understand people’s frustrations, I hear what the voters are saying,” he said. “In all humility, I’ve got to accept that verdict.”

Johnson added: “I’m responsible for everything that the government does and of course I take personal responsibility.”

The prime minister has been warned he is in “last orders time” after the Lib Dems overturned a massive Tory majority in North Shropshire.

Conservative support in the ultra-safe seat collapsed as the Lib Dem candidate Helen Morgan sailed to victory by 5,925 votes.

Opposition parties and Tory MPs were quick to seize on the result as a verdict on the performance of the government, after weeks of damaging headlines over “sleaze” and reported partying in breach of Covid rules.

Conservative Party chairman Oliver Dowden acknowledged the voters had given the Government a “kicking”, but insisted Johnson had the vision to get them through a difficult period.

But after the revolt earlier this week by 100 Tory MPs over the latest Covid restrictions, the veteran backbencher Sir Roger Gale warned the prime minister was living on borrowed time.

“I think this has to be seen as a referendum on the prime minister’s performance and I think that the Prime Minister is now in ‘last orders’ time,” he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

“Two strikes already, one earlier this week in the vote in the Commons and now this. One more strike and he’s out.

“The Conservative Party has a reputation for not taking prisoners. If the prime minister fails, the prime minister goes. We got rid of a good prime minister to install Mr Johnson.

“Mr Johnson has to prove that he’s capable of being a good prime minister and at the moment it’s quite clear that the public don’t think that that’s the case.”

Under party rules, the chairman of the Conservative backbench 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady, is required to call a vote of no confidence in the prime minister if 54 Tory MPs submit a letter to him calling for one.

The by-election was triggered by the resignation of Owen Paterson, with many Tory MPs still angry at the Government’s botched attempt to get him off the hook after he broke the rules on paid lobbying by MPs.

The former minister held the seat with a majority of almost 23,000 at the 2019 general election but the contest was overshadowed by reports of No 10 parties last Christmas in breach of lockdown rules.


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