North Shropshire byelection: ‘One more strike and he’s out’, Tory MP says of Boris Johnson – live | Politics

After a tricky few weeks for Boris Johnson, it is impossible to separate the prime minister from the result. Tory MPs believe he was a key factor on the doorstep. The result points to issues in a general election. While byelections are more vulnerable to protest votes, the North Shropshire vote shows how tactical voting has the potential to wound the Tories at the next election.

There is a particular concern among those MPs in Lib Dem-facing seats, of which there are around 50. But the problem goes further. “If we can’t keep a majority in a true blue seat that voted heavily to leave, where can we?” asks one frustrated Tory MP.

Most immediately, the North Shropshire byelection is a problem for Johnson’s own authority. His MPs have been willing to begrudgingly put up with things they don’t agree with – such as tax rises and Covid restrictions – when they believed Johnson had the support of the public. If they start to see him as the central problem, the calculation will change. Johnson will find it even harder to get his agenda through.

Already Tory MPs from across the party are openly discussing whether he can really lead them into the next election. As the prime minister takes a break over Christmas, he will need to use that time to work out how to regain the support of his party. Otherwise, 2022 will be his most turbulent year yet.

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