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UK Prime Boris Johnson accepts ‘personal responsibility’ after Conservatives suffer by-election defeat

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Boris Johnson has said he takes “personal responsibility” after his Conservative Party lost the North Shropshire by-election in a shock result that has dealt another significant blow to his premiership.

Lib Dem candidate Helen Morgan overturned a huge Tory majority to triumph in the contest, which was sparked by the resignation of Owen Paterson amid a lobbying scandal.

Speaking to broadcasters following the result, the prime minister said: “I am responsible for everything the government does and of course I take personal responsibility.

“Clearly the vote in North Shropshire is a very disappointing result and I totally understand people’s frustrations, I hear what the voters are saying in North Shropshire and in all humility I have got to accept that verdict.”

Conservative co-chairman Oliver Dowden earlier admitted that his party had been given “a kicking”, telling Sky News that voters in North Shropshire wanted to send “a message” that “we have heard that loud and clear”.

Meanwhile, veteran Tory MP Sir Roger Gale warned the prime minister that he has “one more strike” left after a series of setbacks in recent weeks.

Mrs Morgan polled 17,957 votes, ahead of Tory candidate Neil Shastri-Hurst on 12,032, giving her a majority of 5,925.

Labour’s Ben Wood was a distant third with 3,686 votes.

Asked which things going wrong under his watch were to blame for the defeat, the PM told broadcasters that “what the people have been hearing is just a constant litany of stuff about politics and politicians and stuff that isn’t about them and isn’t about the things that we can do to make life better”.

The PM added that he needs to “fix” issues like the reported Number 10 parties and the funding of the refurbishment of the No 10 flat.

“Those questions are exactly the kind of questions about politics and politicians and all those kind of things, the running of government, that I’m going to have to fix of course,” he said.

Lib Dem Helen Morgan and former party leader Tim Farron burst a ‘Boris bubble’ after winning the North Shropshire by-election.

Sir Roger Gale said the Tories’ North Shropshire by-election defeat should be seen as a “referendum” on Mr Johnson’s premiership and described it as “not a happy day for the prime minister”.

“I thought it was highly likely that this would happen. I do not want to detract from Helen Morgan’s very considerable victory, but this wasn’t a vote for the Liberal Democrats, this was, effectively, a referendum on the performance coming out of Downing Street at the moment,” he told Sky News.

“He has got good fortune of having the House in recess. The House has got time to think about this, the party has got time to think about this. He has got about three weeks now to regroup and he is going to have to do that very fast indeed.

About Charles Igbinidu

Charles Igbinidu is a Public Relations practitioner in Lagos, Nigeria

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