Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party suffered a major by-election defeat as the Liberal Democrats won a seat held by the Conservatives for nearly two hundred years.
The Liberal Democrats won 47.2% of votes in the North Shropshire by-election, a stunning rebuke to Johnson’s Conservative government who had won Parliament in a snap election just two years earlier, carrying North Shropshire with almost two-thirds of the vote.
The by-election was due to the resignation of Owen Paterson, a Conservative member of parliament who held the North Shropshire seat since 1997, after he violated lobbying laws.
The results follow a series of scandals centering on an alleged Christmas party held by Johnson and his staffers while the United Kingdom was under lockdown, and Johnson’s ensuing attempts to downplay and allegedly mislead the public regarding the event.
“Instead of taking action to support Shropshire’s farmers, you spend your time misleading the nation on how you and your office partied during lockdown,” Liberal Democrat Helen Morgan, who won the seat, said during her victory speech Friday. “Tonight the people of North Shropshire have said enough is enough. They have said that you are unfit to lead and that they want a change.”
Conservatives attempted to downplay the results as a referendum on Johnson’s honesty, maintaining that Johnson violated no rules.
“I understand and I appreciate that there was a perception, particularly from the media coverage surrounding those alleged events, that we were not abiding by the rules,” Conservative Party chairman Oliver Dowden told BBC Radio 4, the Daily Mail reported. “But I do appreciate the noise and the sound around that was something that was of concern to voters.”
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