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Voters at North Shropshire expected to ‘punish’ Tories in the by-election

2 min read

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Conservative candidate Neil Shastri-Hurst is neck and neck with the Lib Dems’ Helen Morgan in the crunch race to win the rural seat. Defeat in the pro-Brexit constituency would be a fresh blow to Mr Johnson’s authority following a torrid few weeks for the Prime Minister. North Shropshire is usually an ultra-safe Conservative seat, which they held in the 2019 election with a near-23,000 majority and has been Tory for all but two of 190 years.

The by-election was called when Owen Paterson resigned after Mr Johnson abandoned efforts to change the disciplinary system for MPs to save the former environment secretary from being punished for breaking rules on paid lobbying.

A key factor in the final result could be how many traditional Conservative voters who are now dissatisfied with the party, and with Mr Johnson, decide to stay at home, or even vote Lib Dem. Dr Shastri-Hurst yesterday hit out at the Tories’ latest Christmas party scandal.

Former Conservative London mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey was forced to quit as chair of a police and crime committee after he was pictured attending a Covid regulation breaching Christmas party last year. He said: “Shaun Bailey and a number of others attending a party, in a flagrant contravention of the Covid regulations at the time, is utterly unacceptable.”

Fourteen candidates, including the Reclaim party’s Martin Daubney, are standing in the by-election. Reform UK candidate Kirsty Walmsley, a former Conservative councillor, will be unable to attend the count after contracting Covid.

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