Boris Johnson has suffered another devastating blow to his authority as Prime Minister after the Conservatives suffered a severe by-election defeat in North Shropshire, a seat of the Tory for nearly 200 years.
The Liberal Democrats overthrew a 23,000 Tory majority to win the rural Brexit vote seat by nearly 6,000 votes, ending a disastrous end of 2021 for Johnson.
Johnson will now have to face more Tory questions about his leadership after weeks of self-inflicted mistakes and a record rebellion of around 100 Tory MPs this week over his Covid policy.
Liberal Democrats leader Sir Ed Davey said early Friday morning that “the party is over” for Johnson, a reference to reports of Christmas parties held last year by the Prime Minister’s staff in violation of Covid rules.
Helen Morgan, the Lib Dem candidate, won 17,957 votes ahead of Neil Shastri-Hurst of the Conservatives with 12,032 votes, a majority of 5,925. Labor’s Ben Wood finished third with 3,686 votes. The turnout was 46.3%.
Davey called his party’s victory a “turning point in our politics” that gave voters across the country “hope” that “a better future is possible”.
The by-election was triggered by the resignation of former minister Owen Paterson, who resigned after a corruption scandal, and the Tory campaign in the seat was dominated by criticism of the prime minister.
Read more about the North Shropshire by-elections.