Tory MP caught in embarrassing car crash interview as he scrambles to back Boris

Richard Holden grilled for ‘changing the subject’

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Voters on the streets of Oswestry have laid the blame for the Tories’ defeat in the heartland seat of North Shropshire squarely at the door of Prime Minister Boris Johnson. As the newly elected Liberal Democrats’ North Shropshire MP Helen Morgan carried out her first walkabout through the market town of Oswestry, which forms part of her new constituency, a female shopper spotted her, smiled and shouted: “We voted for you.” Discussing the loss with radio host Eddie Mair, Mr Holden struggled to explain the results.

Speaking to LBC, Mr Holden said: “Look at Old Bexley and Sidcup a fortnight ago, very different results.”

Mr Mair interjected: “You keep changing the subject, and honestly – I don’t blame you.”

“We’re looking at very different circumstances in North Shropshire compared to other seats which have also been elected in recent weeks.”

The symbolism was clear – but voters on the streets seemed surprised by the sheer scale of Conservative Party’s defeat in a seat it had held with a near 23,000-vote majority.

The result in North Shropshire was the seventh biggest swing, at 34.2 percent, in a by-election since the Second World War

One Labour voter told the PA news agency he had thought the Tories would hold on “by 1,000 votes or so”.

The constituency has been Tory for nearly 200 years, but many of those happy to speak to reporters in Oswestry laid the blame for the defeat at the Prime Minister’s door, with one calling him “lazy” and another saying he behaved with “complete disregard”.

The result came at the end of a week in which Mr Johnson has been embroiled in allegations of Downing Street parties and a rebellion by his own MPs over Covid measures.

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The by-election was triggered when former incumbent Owen Paterson stepped down after being found to have breached parliamentary lobbying rules.

Talking to reporters outside The Bailey Head pub, Ms Morgan said voters had been “moving towards” the Liberal Democrats, “even before the issue with the party, last week”.

She said local issues like concern over Covid-hit health services and a farming community which “feels taken for granted” had boosted her vote.

Ms Morgan said: “You can’t deny the impact of the party and the news that broke last week, but I think it was moving in our direction before then.”

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But her new constituents said recent events which have engulfed the Prime Minister may have played a role.

Stephen Richardson, 33, who has lived in the area most of his life, applauded Ms Morgan as she was on her walkabout.

“It’s always been Conservative in Oswestry, so I think it’s interesting to see the Liberals, not Labour (winning),” he said.

Labour voter Robert Bound’s young daughter Lucinda, said: “I thought the Lib Dems were going to win.”

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