Senior Shropshire Tories 'disappointed but not surprised' at by-election result

Disappointment has been shared by Conservatives in the county over the North Shropshire by-election defeat – but some say they were "not entirely surprised".

Neil Shastri-Hurst
Neil Shastri-Hurst

The losing parties made a swift exit from the declaration at Shrewsbury Sports Village following the victory announcement for the Lib Dems – but it was almost too swift for Conservative candidate, Neil Shastri-Hurst.

After a extremely brief few words for journalists, Dr Shastri-Hurst and entourage walked to a waiting 4x4 vehicle with the candidate gallantly opening a rear door for one of his companions and closing it after she got in.

But as he did so the vehicle drove off, leaving him standing in the car park looking flummoxed until it reversed back for him.

As he left the Shrewsbury Bowls Club, where the declaration by returning officer Tim Collard was made, he said that the Conservative Party would need to reflect on the by-election.

He asked the press to excuse him as he simply wanted to go home.

He said: "I am sure you will understand, I want to go and give George, my eight-week-old son, a bit of a cuddle. I haven't seen enough of him in the last few weeks.

"The by-election didn't go our way tonight and obviously I am deeply disappointed. We shall have to take stock over the next few days and weeks."

MPs elsewhere in the county have also expressed their disappointment about the result.

Ludlow MP Philip Dunne said: "I was very disappointed by the result but not totally surprised.

"Given the very effective tactical voting adopted by the liberals and Labour and the negative headlines coming out of Whitehall, which contributed to a general level of frustration among Conservative voters.

"It was also exacerbated by Covid and people feeling cross and frustrated about that.

"I spent time with Neil Shastri-Hurst who was an excellent candidate.

"He did a very positive campaign. It's unfortunate timing for him for it to happen like it did."

Wrekin MP Mark Pritchard said the North Shropshire electorate had sent a resounding and clear message to the government that they must do far better.

"I'm sure that message will now be heard," he added.

The Conservative leader of Shropshire Council, Lezley Picton, said she was "very disappointed" with the result but "not entirely surprised".

"Neil Shastri-Hurst would have made a very good MP for the north of our county," she said.

"By-elections are notoriously difficult for the party in power and national politics played a huge part in this result.

"I heard on the doorstep that trust has become a major issue and I am sure that the Government has heard this loud and clear too.

"I hope they also understand that they cannot take core voters for granted and that shire counties continue to suffer from unfair funding and in turn, residents suffer from poorer services.

"The Conservative administration at Shropshire Council will continue to work closely with all our communities, and in the north, we will now prepare for the next general election.”

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