North Shropshire by-election news – live: PM takes ‘personal responsibility’ after Lib Dems win safe Tory seat

Boris Johnson says he takes ‘personal responsibility’ for North Shropshire by-election loss

Boris Johnson says he takes “personal responsibility” for the North Shropshire by-election loss but has dismissed the question of whether he would resign, after the Liberal Democrats defeated the Conservatives with a 5,925 majority and 34 per cent swing.

Asked which things going wrong under his watch were to blame for the defeat, he talked about people hearing “a constant litany of stuff about politics and politicians and stuff that isn’t about them”. He also admitted he needed to “fix” issues such as the reported Downing Street parties and funding of the refurbishment of the No 10 flat.

Hours earlier, a senior Tory MP warned Mr Johnson he had just “one more strike” before the party considers ousting him. Sir Roger Gale told BBC Radio 4’s Today: “We got rid of a good prime minister [Theresa May] to install Boris Johnson and he has to prove he’s a good leader. Right now he isn’t doing that.”

Helen Morgan won with 17,957 votes, while her Tory rival Neil Shastri-Hurst had 12,032 votes. In 209, the Tories won the seat with a 23,000 majority, and Ms Morgan came third.

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SNP’s Blackford demands Case probe ‘scrapped’ in letter to PM

In the light of accusations that there were parties at cabinet secretary Simon Case’s office last year, SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford has called for the current internal investigation by Mr Case to be “scrapped”.

““I write in reference to the serious allegations that have emerged in relation to two parties hosted at the cabinet secretary’s office last December, at which the cabinet secretary was present,” he wrote in a letter to Boris Johnson.

He later added in document, which he shared in series of tweets: “The cabinet secretary’s internal investigation cannot be trusted and it must now be scrapped. The public cannot possibly have any confidence in an inquiry, led by someone alleged to have been involved in the very matter being investigated.”

Sam Hancock17 December 2021 15:02


Watch: Roger Gale confirms he has sent letter of no confidence in PM

MP Roger Gale confirms he has sent letter of no confidence in Boris Johnson

Sam Hancock17 December 2021 14:50


Anti-lockdown candidates worst defeated in North Shropshire

Anti-lockdown candidates were wiped out at the North Shropshire by-election, losing their deposits and in some cases winning fewer votes than the Monster Raving Loony Party.

The Freedom Alliance, which was set up this year “to resist the UK government’s draconian lockdown restrictions and attacks on medical freedom” came 12th out of 14 places in the contest, taking 0.15 per cent of the total. In 10th place was the right-wing populist party Heritage, which also ran on an anti-lockdown ticket.

Both candidates finished below Howling Laud Hope, leader of the Official Monster Raving Loony Party, who received 118 votes (0.31 per cent) and came eighth. One place above was Martin Daubney, the deputy leader of actor Laurence Fox’s Reclaim party.

Our home affairs editor Lizzie Dearden has the full report:

Sam Hancock17 December 2021 14:42


Simon Case’s office accused of throwing lockdown parties

The cabinet secretary who has been charged with investigating whether the PM and his staff broke lockdown rules by hosting parties last year, is now himself caught up in accusations about such events.

Political website Guido Fawkes published a report on Friday, claiming a whistleblower said there were two events, one of which was planned and organised by staff in Mr Case’s private office – featuring “copious booze and music”.

While Mr Case wasn’t actively participating, the website states, the source claims to have spotted the cabinet secretary sticking his head into the room to call staff out at various points during the party to talk with them.

A second event allegedly took place last December and saw staff, again, drinking in Mr Case’s office before departing for drinks elsewhere.

Mr Case is yet to comment on the claims.

Sam Hancock17 December 2021 14:27


Rail fares to rise by 3.8% amid cost of living crisis

Stepping away from North Shropshire for a moment, the PM’s government has been accused of hitting hard-pressed families with “brutal” train ticket price hikes after announcing that rail fares will rise by 3.8 per cent from March 2022.

The Department for Transport (DfT) confirmed on Friday that rail companies will be allowed to raise prices, despite Britain’s mounting cost of living crisis, reports Adam Forrest.

The steepest increase since 2013 comes as the cost of fuel, clothing and food continue to soar, with changes to the energy price cap expected to increase gas and electricity bills in April.

Sam Hancock17 December 2021 13:56


PM needs to ‘sort himself out’ in 2022, says senior Tory

Our politics reporter Adam Forrest has the following:

Senior Tory backbencher Sir Charles Walker has told Times Radio that Boris Johnson has up to “a year to sort himself out” in the wake of the North Shropshire by-election result.

“The prime minister has got weeks, months, a year to sort himself out. Every day has got to be better than the day before,” he said.

“If we go on making unforced errors over the next three to six months or nine months, it will become a lot more serious. It’s serious now but it’s not at a critical level yet.”

Sam Hancock17 December 2021 13:38


Watch: Boris Johnson responds to North Shropshire result

Boris Johnson responds to North Shropshire result

Sam Hancock17 December 2021 13:36


Lib Dem leader: Illusion of inevitable Tory power shattered

Seeing Labour and Green supporters put tribalism aside was a beautiful thing, and gives us hope the Tories can be beaten at the next election, Ed Davey writes for The Independent:

Jane Dalton17 December 2021 13:17


Frost: We may still tirgger Article 16 of NI Protocol

Brexit Minister Lord Frost has warned he could still suspend the Northern Ireland protocol of the EU agreement, by triggering Article 16.

As talks for this year ended, he said it was disappointing that a fresh agreement with the European Union on its operation had not been reached.

While there had been “some progress”, he said, it had not been “as much, and not as quickly as we had hoped”.

He added: “A solution needs to be found urgently early next year. For as long as there is no agreed solution, we remain ready to use the Article 16 safeguard mechanism if that is the only way to protect the prosperity and stability of Northern Ireland and its people.”

European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic said he hoped there would be a “gear change” in the negotiations with the UK on protocol issues in the new year.

Jane Dalton17 December 2021 13:02


PM: I take personal responsibility for by-election defeat

Boris Johnson has said he takes “personal responsibility” for Conservative defeat in the North Shropshire by-election, but refused to say whether he would step down if he felt it was in the interests of the party and the country.

Asked whether he would quit if it was in the interests of the Tory party and the UK for him to resign, he said it was exactly the kind of question that broke “the golden rule”.

“What we’re focusing on is trying to get the job done,” he said, and talked about boosting vaccinations and mitigating the worst consequences of omicron.

Asked about the defeat, he said: “Clearly the vote in North Shropshire is a very disappointing result.

“I totally understand people’s frustrations. I hear what the voters are saying in North Shropshire. In all humility I have got to accept that verdict.”

Jane Dalton17 December 2021 12:26


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