“One more blow and he’s out,” says Tory MP about Boris Johnson – live – nach Welt

If it’s a cliché that the Conservatives The way they deal with leaders who no longer feel like electoral capital can be brutal, arguably even more so for Boris Johnsonwhose main attraction for many of his MPs was appeal to the electorate. When that’s gone, he should be worried.

Your key word is “if”. The Tories’ loss to the North Shropshire Liberal Democrats – one seat they held for only two for the past 189 years – is an undeniable earthquake, but by-elections have particular qualities, not least the greater ability to support the opposition to one to bundle party.

However, they often contain broader lessons for governments, even the medium-term ones, who at the best of times could expect a kick from the electorate.

What will alarm Johnson’s advisors are the many reports from North Shropshire of not only angering the government, but also a fairly significant and personal dislike of the Prime Minister.

This has been a recurring theme in the last major by-election story, when the Liberal Democrats toppled a 16,000-strong Tory majority in Chesham und Amersham in June, but here at least part of it could be explained by a tension of liberal, internationalist conservatism on the affluent commuter belt.

North Shropshire is very different: largely rural and strong for Brexit. But here too, Voters complained about the feeling of being taken for granted by the Tories, and also the feeling that Johnson is slippery and not serious enough.

So some Conservative MPs will wake up on Friday with two calculations in mind. First, if your party could lose a seat by a majority of nearly 23,000, what would such a turnaround mean for you? And if voters don’t like the Prime Minister in both Chesham and Amersham and North Shropshire, where exactly is he popular?

One consolation for Downing Street is that such mutinous thoughts are largely not discussed with fellow MPs as the Commons Christmas break has begun, ending perhaps the most politically damaging week of Johnson’s career.

It involved a buildup of scathing publicity over two rolling stories: a series of reports on supposedly lockdown breaking parties on Downing Street, Conservative Headquarters and government departments; and the prospect of further revelations about how Johnson paid for the costly renovation of his official residence.

Amid it all, Johnson led the response to a huge wave of the Omicron variant that required the introduction of his Plan B series of restrictions, including returning to home work, continuing to use masks, and introducing mandatory Covid certificates around venues how to enter night clubs and soccer fields.

The latter plan was hugely unpopular with many Tory MPs, 99 from whom rebelled in a commons vote on Tuesday that challenged both Johnson’s authority and his ability to tighten Covid rules further if the omicron wave worsens, as many public health experts predict.

Some Tories will find that the North Shropshire campaign would always be difficult for the government as it was led to do so by resigning of the former environment minister Owen Patersonwho violated the rules for paid lobbying.

But even this situation, many will believe, was mishandled by Johnson and his advisors. Paterson just resigned after Downing Street was turned underground in trying to save him from punishment by trying to unilaterally rewrite the entire disciplinary system for MPs, which sparks loads of stories about lobbying and second jobs.

Conversely, if Johnson had urged Paterson to quietly serve the 30-day suspension imposed as a punishment, this week would have been over and the Prime Minister may have gone into Christmas happier.

Here is the full analysis: North Shropshire earthquake gives Boris Johnson an unhappy Christmas

Related: North Shropshire earthquake gives Boris Johnson an unhappy Christmas


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