Boris Johnson's Party Suffers Stunning Defeat

Seat lost in by-election had been Conservative for almost 200 years
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 17, 2021 6:55 AM CST
Boris Johnson's Party Suffers Stunning Defeat
Newly elected Liberal Democrat lawmaker Helen Morgan, celebrates in Oswestry, Shropshire, England, Friday Dec. 17, 2021, following her victory in the North Shropshire by-election.   (Jacob King/PA via AP)

(Newser) – UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party has suffered a stunning defeat in a parliamentary by-election that was a referendum on his government amid weeks of scandal and soaring COVID-19 infections. Liberal Democrat candidate Helen Morgan overturned a Conservative majority of almost 23,000 votes from the last election to win Thursday’s contest in North Shropshire, a rural area of northwest England that has been represented by a Conservative almost continuously since 1832, the AP reports. The election was called after the former Conservative member of Parliament resigned amid a corruption scandal.

The result will heap pressure on Johnson just two years after he was reelected with a seemingly unassailable 80-seat majority in Parliament. His authority has been dented in recent weeks by allegations that he and his staff attended Christmas parties last year while the country was in lockdown, efforts to shield an ally from allegations of illegal lobbying, and suggestions that he improperly accepted donations to fund the lavish refurbishment of his official residence. Against this backdrop, supporters and opponents are questioning Johnson’s handling of the pandemic after coronavirus infections soared to records this week as the highly transmissible omicron variant swept through the UK.

"Tonight the people of North Shropshire have spoken on behalf of the British people," Morgan said in her victory speech. "They said loudly and clearly, ’Boris Johnson, the party is over. Your government, run on lies and bluster, will be held accountable. It will be scrutinized, it will be challenged, and it can and will be defeated.'" Conservative lawmakers rebelled earlier this week, with 99 members of Johnson’s party voting against his proposal to require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to enter nightclubs and large events. The measure passed only because the opposition Labour Party supported it.

(Read more United Kingdom stories.)

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