North Shropshire a ‘referendum’ on Boris Johnson’s premiership
The Tories’ North Shropshire by-election defeat should be seen as a “referendum” on Boris Johnson’s premiership, according to long-serving Conservative MP Sir Roger Gale.
Asked why the Tories lost, the North Thanet MP told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Because the electorate wanted to send a very clear message to Downing Street that they were dissatisfied with the management of this Government.
“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.
“Two strikes already, one earlier this week in the vote in the Commons and now this. One more strike and he’s out.”
Lib Dem leader celebrates ‘watershed moment’
The Liberal Democrat victory in North Shropshire is “spectacular” and a “watershed moment”, according to the leader of the party.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Ed Davey said: “This is a watershed moment in British politics.
“It was a spectacular result and I couldn’t be more delighted for Helen Morgan, our new Liberal Democrat MP for North Shropshire.
“I’m just so proud of our party, our campaigners. I think we brought hope to the whole nation.
“We’ve now this year beaten the Conservatives in two of their safest seats, with the previous by-election in blue Buckinghamshire in Chesham and Amersham.
“Liberal Democrats have proven the Conservatives can be beaten anywhere.
“And I think people are so fed up with Boris Johnson, so fed up with his incompetence and his behaviour, I think they’ll be really happy about that.”
Lib Dem thanks Shaun Bailey for North Shropshire win
Luisa Porritt, former mayor of London candidate and MEP, has thanked the Conservatives photographed at a lockdown breaking party for helping the Liberal Democrats to secure victory in North Shropshire.
The leader of the Camden Lib Dems said: “Special thanks must go to Shaun Bailey and his entire campaign team for their assistance in North Shropshire this week.”
‘No such thing as a safe Tory seat’
The historic North Shropshire defeat in last night’s by-election shows that there is “no such thing as a safe Tory seat”, according to political commentator Tom Newton Dunn.
Mr Newton Dunn branded the loss “extraordinary” due to the swing and the history of the seat.
The North Shropshire seat has existed in some form since the 1830s and, until Friday, had always been held by a Conservative MP.
Mr Newton Dunn said: “For the Tories to lose North Shropshire – a pro-Brexit 23,000 majority seat they’ve held since 1832 – is awful.
“To lose it with a 34 percent swing and by 6,000 votes is quite extraordinary.
“It’s only a by-election, but would mean there’s no such thing as a safe Tory seat.”
For the Tories to lose North Shropshire – a pro-Brexit 23,000 majority seat theyu2019ve held since 1832 – is awful. To lose it with a 34% swing and by 6,000 votes is quite extraordinary. Itu2019s only a by-election, but would mean thereu2019s no such thing as a safe Tory seat.
u2014 Tom Newton Dunn (@tnewtondunn) December 17, 2021
‘Just the beginning!’ Reclaim’s Martin Daubney issues warning to Tories
Reclaim candidate Martin Daubney has warned the Conservatives that their historic loss in North Shropshire is “just the beginning”.
Ex-Brexit Party MEP Martin Daubney, 51, stood as the candidate for the Reclaim Party in yesterday’s North Shropshire by-election.
Mr Daubney received just 375 votes and finished in a distant seventh place in North Shropshire, falling behind the UKIP candidate by just three votes.
However, Mr Daubney told Express.co.uk he expects the party to make progress in the New Year.
“We are very, very happy with our gain here, our campaign,” Mr Daubney said.
“A huge learning curve and the Reclaim Party is just beginning.
“This is stage one, our first by-election, we’ve got £5million for the New Year, we’ve taken a councillor from the Tories in North Shropshire, we’ve built an outpost, we’ve got three more councillors going to us in the New Year, great news to come.”
Voters ‘gave us a kicking’ and Tories ‘heard that loud and clear’
The voters in North Shropshire wanted to send “a message” to the Conservatives and “we have heard that loud and clear”, Oliver Dowden has said.
Speaking on Sky News, the co-chairman of the party said: “Voters in North Shropshire were fed up and they gave us a kicking and I think they wanted to send us a message – and I want to say, as chairman of the Conservative Party, we have heard that loud and clear.
“We need to get on with delivering the job and that is precisely what we are doing.
“For example, with the booster programme to deal with the Omicron variant.”
North Shropshire by-election result speaking for the people ‘fed-up’ with Johnson
Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Ed Davey, has congratulated his victorious North Shropshire candidate, Helen Morgan.
The Lib Dem leader claims that the by-election, which saw the Conservatives lose a seat they had previously held since 1832, was indicative of the public mood.
Mr Davey said: “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.
“Congratulations Helen Morgan, you will make a wonderful MP for your community.”
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.
u2014 Ed Davey MP (@EdwardJDavey) December 17, 2021
Tories ‘deserve’ the ‘terrible’ by-election result in North Shropshire
The Conservative defeat in North Shropshire is “terrible” for the party, but this is a result they “thoroughly deserve”, according to shadow business secretary Jonathan Reynolds.
Speaking on BBC Breakfast, he said: “It’s clearly a terrible result for Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party, but I think one that they thoroughly deserve.
“Clearly people have wanted to send a message to the Government they’re fed up with the incompetence, the sleaze, the kind of revelations we’ve seen over the last few weeks.
“And I think the Government has to take heed of that.
“At the minute it feels, to be frank, that this Government is not in control of itself, let alone the country. And I think the result last night reflects that.”
Good morning from London. I’m Tara Fair, I’ll be bringing you all the latest developments from the North Shropshire by-election. Please feel free to get in touch with me as I work if you have a story or tips to share! Your thoughts are always welcome.
Polling guru John Curtice warns North Shropshire could be a political earthquake
Polling expert Sir John Curtice, 68, has said the North Shropshire by-election ranks as an 8.5 on the Richter scale.
According to Times journalism Steven Swinford, the professor also said it could constitute a political earthquake.
Tory candidate refuses to blame Boris for ‘disappointing’ by-election loss
North Shropshire’s Conservative candidate Neil Shastri-Hurst, 38, refused to blame Boris Johnson, 57, after he lost a seat which has voted Conservative in every electoral contest since 1906.
Speaking after his defeat, Mr Shastri-Hurst said: “We’ve run a positive campaign here, I’m extremely proud of the work that everyone has done.
“Of course, it is a disappointing result for us but I think we all deserve a good night sleep.”
He added: “We are 11-years into a Conservative Government, by-elections are never an easy thing to win… but of course we do need to reflect upon the result and I’m sure as a party we will do that.”
Sir Ed Davey lauds ‘watershed’ Lib Dem victory in North Shropshire
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey, 55, is currently isolating due to COVID-19.
However, the Kingston & Surbiton MP was able to share his thoughts after his party knocked another brick out the Blue Wall in the North Shropshire by-election.
Commenting on the result, Sir Ed 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.
“This is the second stunning by-election victory this year for the Liberal Democrats – both in formerly safe Conservative seats. 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.
“The Liberal Democrats believe people deserve a fair deal where everyone plays by the same rules – including those in Downing Street. We will fight for that fair deal with good schools, safe streets and high-quality healthcare.”
‘The party is over!’ Lib Dem winner calls out Boris in seismic victory
Speaking after her historic victory in North Shropshire, Liberal Democrat candidate Helen 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.
“Across the country, the Liberal Democrats are taking on the Conservatives and winning.
“In rural Shropshire today – just like in Buckinghamshire in June – we have won the support of people who have always voted Conservative and people who have always opposed them.
“Thousands of lifelong Conservative voters, dismayed by Boris Johnson’s lack of decency and fed up with being taken for granted.”
North Shropshire result – Liberal Democrat GAIN
The Liberal Democrats have won the North Shropshire by-election.
The total number of votes received by candidates from the following parties was as follows:
Liberal Democrats – 17,957
Conservatives – 12,032
Labour – 3,686
Green – 1,738
Reform – 1,427
UKIP – 378
Reclaim – 375
Monster Raving Looney Party – 118
Independent – 95
Heritage Party – 79
Rejoin EU – 58
Freedom Alliance – 57
Party Party – 19
Other – 3
Lib Dems gloat over by-election victory
Taking to Twitter, the Liberal Democrats shared a clip of Sir Ed Davey, 55, rising to his feet and waving his arms in celebration of the party’s victory over the Tories in North Shropshire.
The Liberal Democrat leader, who replaced Jo Swinson in August 2020, is currently at home in isolation due to COVID-19.
The post was captioned: “When you beat the Conservatives in a by-election, for the second time in one year.”
‘We’ve had a good nibble!’ Reclaim candidate Martin Daubney says tactical voting ousted the Tories
Ex-Brexit Party MEP Martin Daubney, 51, said Reclaim had a “good nibble” at the Tory vote in the North Shropshire by-election.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, the former journalist added: “We are very, very happy with our gain here, our campaign.
“A huge learning curve and the Reclaim Party is just beginning.
“This is stage one, our first by-election, we’ve got £5million for the New Year, we’ve taken a councillor from the Tories in North Shropshire, we’ve built an outpost, we’ve got three more councillors going to us in the New Year, great news to come.
“Reclaim is just getting started.”
However, he stressed the Liberal Democrats benefitted from a protest vote against Boris Johnson, 57, in what he suggested was a referendum on the Prime Minister’s leadership.
“This wasn’t an election about the small parties, it’s turned out to be a straight forward race between the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives,” he said.
Mr Daubney even claimed tactical voting had led one Green Party canvasser to cast their vote in favour of the Liberal Democrat candidate.
Result expected in the next hour
The declaration of the knife-edge North Shropshire by-election is expected to be delivered at 3.30am.
The result is expected to be a hammer blow for Boris Johnson, 57, after the Liberal Democrats jumped the gun to claim they have won the contest “comfortably”.
Boris could face a leadership challenge if defeated in North Shropshire
Sir Roger Gale, 78, called for Boris Johnson, 57, to go if the Tory candidate is defeated at the North Shropshire by-election race to succeed ex-Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson, 65.
The veteran North Thanet MP said: “If we were to win by a very narrow majority or more particularly if we were to lose then I think that could well become a tipping point and I think at that point Sir Graham Brady might have to go and have a conversation with the Prime Minister.”
‘Disaster for Boris’ Lib Dems claim they will smash the Tories in North Shropshire
While votes are still being counted, the Liberal Democrats are increasingly confident they will deliver Boris Johnson, 57, with yet another by-election blow.
A Liberal Democrat spokesperson said: “We’re not just going to win, we’re going to win comfortably. This is an amazing night for the Liberal Democrats and a disaster for Boris Johnson.”
Turnout higher than Old Bexley & Sidcup
Turnout in North Shropshire is above the number who voted in the recent Old Bexley & Sidcup by-election.
The overall turnout is reported to be 46.3 percent in Owen Paterson’s former constituency.
When Louie French won the Bexley by-election two weeks ago, just 33.5 percent of voters headed to the polling stations.
What happened last time?
Ex-MP Owen Paterson, 65, returned to the Commons in 2019 with 63 percent of the vote.
Labour finished in a distant second on 22 percent and the Remain-supporting Liberal Democrats ended up in third with just 10 percent.
The Green Party, who will also be contesting tonight’s by-election, received 3.2 percent of the vote.
Robert Jones from the Shropshire Party finished in the fifth and final place on 2 percent.
Turnout in 2019 also stood at 68 percent.
Despite reports the Liberal Democrats could snatch the seat, voters in North Shropshire backed Brexit in the 2016 referendum, with estimates suggesting 60 percent of locals voted to sever ties with the Brussels bloc.
Reform UK and Reclaim will also stand in tonight’s contest and may hope to benefit from the pro-Brexit and ex-UKIP support.
In 2015, when Nigel Farage’s party ended up receiving the third most amount of votes in the UK, almost 18 percent of voters in North Shropshire supported the Eurosceptic party.
Green Party politician claims Keir Starmer should be held accountable for North Shropshire result
Green Party Assembly Member at City Hall Zack Polanski, 39, told Express.co.uk: “I think essentially Keir Starmer has an opportunity to unite the opposition by supporting a fair voting system.
“Not only would this stop successive Conservative governments, more importantly it would be a chance for everyone’s vote to matter.
“Locals in North Shropshire should have had the opportunity to vote for who they want to win and not their least worst option.”
‘Dire few weeks!’ Conservative commentator warns Tories are ‘concerned’
Conservative Home chief executive Mark Wallace, 37, told Sky News: “I think the Conservatives are legitimately concerned about this.
“You know it has been an absolutely dire few weeks, as you’ve just covered, for the Government and the fact is in ordinary times this ought not to be close.
“But all the forecasts are it’s going to be.”
He added: “One of the things we are seeing at the moment of course is there are several different great realignments going on all at the same time in British politics.”
Mr Wallace also pointed out how North Shropshire voted to leave the European Union and cautioned the Liberal Democrats they could still face a Brexit backlash from constituents.
‘We’re going to take votes!’ Reclaim’s Martin Daubney issues Boris with by-election warning
Ex-Brexit Party MEP Martin Daubney, 51, has warned Boris Johnson, 57, the Reclaim Party will take votes away from the Conservatives.
The former journalist told Express.co.uk: “We are going to take votes from the Brexit end of the spectrum, the patriots, the true Brexiteers, the one’s who are upset the Government is losing control on illegal immigration, taxation, green taxes and of course the Christmas party scandal.”
But Mr Daubney also warned voter turnout could prove decisive in deciding who succeeds Owen Paterson, 65, as the MP for North Shropshire.
He said: “A lot of voters who voted for Brexit [Party] in 2019 would never vote the Liberal Democrats… [but] if those shy Tories are staying at home on a cold winter’s night, suddenly there is an extra pressure on the Conservatives.”
Speaking about the mood on the ground, he added: “Conservative activists are looking ashen-faced.
“There is a heck of a lot of worry amongst the Tories.”
Tories suffer by-election blow in Kent
Boris Johnson, 57, has been dealt a blow in Kent, just hours before the Conservative Party find out whether they have done enough to hold onto North Shropshire.
The Green Party took yet another Blue Wall scalp in Ashford where they surged part the Tory Party to win the ward of Highfield.
The Green candidate received 40 percent of the vote, up 21.2 percent.
Whereas, the Tories saw a 7 point slump on 34.1 percent.
The Labour Party, who finished second in Ashford at the general election in 2019, received just 4.8 percent of the vote.
‘Smaller snapshot!’ Lib Dems clarify leaked canvass data from North Shropshire
Liberal Democrat canvass data has been doing the rounds on social media.
It appears to indicate the party edged ahead of the Tories by 43 percent to 37 percent on December 10.
However, the Mirror’s Rachel Wearmouth has stressed the data should come with a “big health warning”.
A Liberal Democrat source told Express.co.uk: “We don’t recognise this from the full canvass throughout the campaign. We suspect it may have been a smaller snapshot either of a specific geographical area or over a smaller period of time.”
Labour could split the anti-Tory vote in North Shropshire in boost to Boris
A Labour source on the ground told Express.co.uk: “I honestly reckon that we’ll have split the anti-Tory vote share and they’ll get in.”
The source added: “It’s been so difficult to tell as the opinions of the people we spoke to two weeks ago are different to if we speak to them now with everything that’s gone on.”
‘Shiver down Boris’ spine!’ Lib Dems sense opportunity to tear through Tory Blue Wall
As polls closed in North Shropshire, the Liberal Democrats warn Tory MPs could be left “looking over their shoulders” once the result of the knife-edge by-election is declared.
Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesperson Christine Jardine, 61, said: “Helen Morgan ran a fantastic campaign against a Conservative party which has taken people in North Shropshire for granted.
“There is real anger at Boris Johnson’s Government which is completely out of touch with the country.
“If the Conservative Party lose significant numbers of votes tonight in one of their safest seats in the country, there will be countless Conservative MPs looking over their shoulders nervously tomorrow.
“This seat has returned a Conservative MP since 1830.”
“The Liberal Democrats are within touching distance of winning Blue Wall Conservative seats across the country at the next general election.
The Edinburgh West MP added: “If we get a strong result here tonight in a rural Conservative safe seat, it will send a shiver down Boris Johnson’s spine.”
‘Lost confidence in Boris’ Tory activist warns Conservative voters have flocked to the Lib Dems
A Conservative activist has warned Boris Johnson, 57, could see his thumping majority in Brexit-backing North Shropshire be whittled down amid reports Downing Street hosted festive parties last Christmas.
When asked by Express.co.uk about how the campaign to succeed ex-Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson, 65, had gone, Nigel Saidler, 20, said: “A lot of people have lost confidence in Boris.”
Mr Saidler, who spent today campaigning in the constituency, added: “Lifelong Tory voters are voting for the Liberal Democrats.”
However, when pushed on whether he thought Neil Shastri-Hurst, 38, had done enough to hold on to the once-safe seat, Mr Saidler said he expected a Tory win but with the Liberal Democrats in a “close” second.
When will we know the winner?
North Shropshire began voting at the polls at 7 am.
The polls closed at 10 pm but we will have to wait a few hours before the results come in.
They will only come once polling station staff have stopped tallying votes.
As such, there is no definite time when onlookers can expect the results.
And given the small-scale nature of the election, there won’t be an exit poll.
We will be bringing you live updates throughout the night.