By-election POLL: Should Boris Johnson resign if Tories lose safe seat today? VOTE
Kay Burley grills Grant Shapps on North Shropshire by-election
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Express.co.uk readers can vote in our poll below on whether Mr Johnson should quit if the Conservatives lose the seat in the West Midlands. And let us know more about what you think in the comments section at the bottom of the page.
Our poll comes as the Tories are battling to defend the constituency as voters head to the polls on Thursday.
The by-election was triggered by the resignation of Owen Paterson in a row over sleaze.
Mr Paterson represented the constituency for 24 years until he stepped down in the wake of the Prime Minister’s botched attempt to shield him from a 30-day suspension.
Mr Johnson attempted to force a Tory-led review of the rules for MPs after Mr Paterson was found to have breached lobbying rules for two companies paying him £100,000 a year.
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But a backlash forced the Prime Minister to make a humiliating U-turn on the plan, leading to Mr Paterson’s resignation.
The Liberal Democrats are hoping to overturn the Tories’ near 23,000-vote majority in today’s by-election.
North Shropshire has returned a Conservative MP in every vote since 1983, which was the constituency’s first election in its current form.
In the 2019 general election, which Mr Johnson won in a landslide victory, the Tories took 62.7 percent of the vote in North Shropshire and held the seat with a majority of 22,949 over Labour, with the Lib Dems in third.
If Conservative candidate Neil Shastri-Hurst loses the seat it will be a huge upset for the party.
The by-election comes at a turbulent time for the Prime Minister.
As well as the recent row over sleaze, Mr Johnson is facing allegations of rule-breaking Christmas parties last Christmas when Covid restrictions were in force.
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And the embattled Prime Minister suffered a major rebellion from Tory backbenchers on Tuesday over new coronavirus rules in response to the Omicron variant.
More than 100 Conservatives defied him to vote against the introduction of mandatory Covid health passes for entry to large venues.
Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, treasurer of the powerful 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers, said that a leadership challenge has “got to be on the cards” for Mr Johnson in the new year if he did not change the way he worked with his MPs.
Former Tory chief whip Mark Harper added: “You either listen and you respond and you do things differently or you ignore what you have been told and you plough on regardless and then this will happen over and over again.”
Bookmakers have put the Lib Dems favourite for victory, while campaigners on the ground believe the result is too close to call.
Asked on Wednesday if Mr Johnson would quit if North Shropshire falls, the Prime Minister’s press secretary said: “We are fighting for every vote.”
The result is expected to be announced in the early hours of Friday.
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