North Shropshire vote count underway in contest to replace Owen Paterson– follow live
Vote count underway in North Shropshire contest to replace Owen Paterson The vote count in the North Shropshire by-election is underway after polls closed at 10pm on Thursday. The result is expected to be announced in the early hours of Friday morning.
The contest was triggered after former MP Owen Paterson was found to have broken lobbying rules. Mr Paterson held the Conservative safe seat for 24 years until his resignation. He quit on 5 November after Prime Minister Boris Johnson made a botched attempt to shield him from a 30-day suspension.
Mr Johnson was unsuccessful in his attempt to get his party to lead a review of standards for MPs. Mr Paterson was found to have breached rules after it was found that two companies paid him GBP100,000 a year. After facing public backlash amid the sleaze scandal, Mr Paterson resigned and said he wanted to escape the “cruel world of politics”.
The by-election also comes after the PM’s authority was thrown in doubt when almost 100 Tory rebels voted against restrictions in his newly-enacted coronavirus ‘plan B’. Asked on Wednesday if Mr Johnson would quit if his party loses North Shropshire, the PM’s press secretary said: “We are fighting for every vote.”
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Sources suggest the Liberal Democrats are claiming victory. Pertinently, the sense is it might not even be close.
Katy Clifton17 December 2021 01:49
High turnout at the by-election
Turnout has been confirmed as 46.3 per cent. That’s considerably up on the 33.5 per cent that turned up for the Old Bexley and Sidcup by-election earlier this month. Colin Drury17 December 2021 01:46
‘Yellow-rosette activists are now sensing blood’
All good by-elections have the sense of an emotional roller-coaster about them – and that’s how this is shaping up tonight.
An hour after suggestions that a strong Labour vote may have denied the Lib Dems victories here, yellow-rosette activists are now sensing blood again. Sources suggest they have done better than expected in the postal vote – most of which actually came in before the Downing Street Christmas party revelations.
Observers watch the votes being counted by election staff (Getty Images)
Katy Clifton17 December 2021 01:14
Tories ‘in trouble’ over apparent Lib Dem protest vote – report
Tories in North Shropshire are concerned that the Liberal Democrats will pip them to the post as a result of a “protest vote” in the scandal-hit constituency.
A Conservative member reportedly said that it appears as if constituents have voted Lib Dem en masse after the resignation of the previous MP – Owen Paterson – triggered the by-election. Mr Paterson sparked a sleaze row for having been found to have broken lobbying rules. LBC journalist Theo Underwood tweeted: “Tory view from the North Shropshire count is that from looking at the contents of the ballot boxes that have arrived first, it looks like the protest votes have coalesced around the Lib Dems.
Conservative source: ‘We’re in trouble.'” Lamiat Sabin17 December 2021 01:00
A recap of who is in the race to be MP
Just in case you need a reminder of who is in the running to represent North Shropshire: Dr Neil Shastri-Hurst – Conservatives
Former army medical officer and honorary NHS consultant is seeking to hold the seat for the Tories. He now works as a barrister, and says that as an MP he would “focus on … building back better after the pandemic and supporting sustainable agriculture.” Helen Morgan – Liberal Democrats
Her party has said that she is the only candidate that can beat the Conservatives, after she had previously fought for the seat in 2019, and she has pledged to improve local health services. Ben Wood – Labour The “Oswestry-born and-bred” candidate said the by-election was a chance to rid North Shropshire of Tory sleaze, and has pledged to “bring back a sense of decency” into local politics.
Duncan Kerr – Green Party Shropshire councillor and former mayor of Oswestry, Duncan Kerr, said he would draw only the UK average wage if he became MP and donate the rest to local charities. Kirsty Walmsley – Reform UK
The daughter of councillors, she herself became the UK’s youngest councillor when she was elected onto the now-defunct Oswestry Borough Council at the age of 21. She said: “The reason I have put myself forward to stand as a candidate is because I believe the people of North Shropshire deserve an independent champion who truly knows and cares about the area.” Russell Dean – The Party Party
The consultant for a yacht broker has said he would be standing on a platform of anti-sleaze and corruption. Howling Laud Hope – Official Monster Raving Loony Party Party chairman, Alan Hope, is running in the by-election after his 10 nominations were collected by fellow party member Nick the Incredible Flying Brick.
Lamiat Sabin17 December 2021 00:45
Better-than-expected Labour showing
Colin Drury, our North of England correspondent, writes from the count: Two hours after the polls closed and, at the counting hall in Shrewsbury, there’s no real certainty yet as to which way the contest may be going. However suggestions are being made that a better-than-expected Labour showing could deny the Liberal Democrats a famous victory here – and help the Tories to retain the seat.
Staff sort ballots in the count centre at Shrewsbury Sports Village
(AFP via Getty Images)
Katy Clifton17 December 2021 00:11
Lib Dems’ data shows party ahead of Conservatives
The Liberal Democrats’ data has shown the party ahead of the Tories – but it has been advised that the finding should be taken with a “huge pinch of salt”. The data from North Shropshire last week puts the Lib Dems at 43 per cent and the Conservatives at 37 per cent. Lamiat Sabin17 December 2021 00:01
Ballot boxes arrive for the count at Shrewsbury Sports Village
Lamiat Sabin16 December 2021 23:40
Council gets into festive mood as votes arrive for count
Shropshire Council’s social media team is getting into the Christmas spirit by imagining a rom-com love story in the constituency featuring a big-shot reporter and a farmer.
In announcing that the ballot boxes have arrived for the count, the council tweeted: “Some of the major television news channels are broadcasting right now as we await the arrival of the first ballot boxes. “I’m almost certain you could make a low-budget, straight-to-Channel 5 Christmas movie out of tonight. “You know the drill, a fancy big city media star gets stranded in North Shropshire just a week before Christmas.
“Her camera truck probably gets stuck in a field. “A handsome young farmer from Wem helps free her and she’s intrigued by his charms…until his tractor accidentally sprays her with mud. “Sadly the truck needs a new wheel or something and she will have to spend Christmas in the county.
“Soon realising her life in London is hollow, she falls for the charms of both the Wem farmer and North Shropshire in general and she opens a Christmas gift shop in snowy Market Drayton. “Ahhhhhh.” Lamiat Sabin16 December 2021 23:20
Vote count underway in North Shropshire
Less than an hour ago, polls closed in the North Shropshire by-election and the counting of votes has started.
The result is expected to be announced in the early hours of tomorrow (Friday) morning.
Lamiat Sabin16 December 2021 22:54
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