Jacob Rees-Mogg Has 'Absolute Faith' in BoJo Leadership Amid North Shropshire Backlash

© REUTERS / POOLBritain's PM Johnson holds press conference on new coronavirus variant, in London
Britain's PM Johnson holds press conference on new coronavirus variant, in London - Sputnik International, 1920, 18.12.2021
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Prime Minister Boris Johnson earlier said that he takes personal responsibility for the crushing defeat the UK Conservative Party sustained on 17 December, losing its traditional stronghold, North Shropshire, to the Liberal Democrats, who got the seat with 17,957 votes.
Leader of the UK House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg has defended Prime Minister Boris Johnson after the North Shropshire by-election drubbing for the Conservatives. Writing in the Express, he applauded the fact that Johnson was “typically noble” for taking the blame for the disappointing result for the Conservative Party in the by-election in North Shropshire.
The Tories had lost a typically “safe” seat in Thursday's election to the Liberal Democrats. Helen Morgan, the party’s candidate, secured 17,957 votes, a majority of 5,925, indicating a swing of 34.2 percentage points from the Conservatives to the Liberal Democrats.
A handout photograph released by the UK Parliament shows Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson gesturing as he speaks during Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs) in the House of Commons in London on December 1, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 17.12.2021
Boris Johnson 'Takes Personal Responsibility' for North Shropshire By-Election Fiasco
The seat in the third largest constituency by area in the West Midlands region, held by the Tories since 1997, had been up for grabs after the resignation of ex-lawmaker Owen Paterson. The former MP found himself at the center of a sleaze scandal after he was discovered to have breached Commons’ paid advocacy rules.
After the results of the by-election, Conservative party chair Oliver Dowden said that voters had been prompted to give the government a “kicking” as they were “fed up” with “sleaze allegations”.
"Clearly the vote in North Shropshire is a very disappointing result and I totally understand people's frustrations. I hear what the voters are saying in North Shropshire and in all humility I have got to accept that verdict… Of course I take personal responsibility," UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson had said on 17 December.

‘Frenzy of Allegations’

The humiliating loss has been feeding into a frenzy of allegations plaguing Johnson’s leadership of late. Ranging from claims of “sleaze” over the Owen Paterson scandal to the alleged Downing Street lockdown-breaching staff Christmas parties last year, they have prompted senior MPs to warn that the PM was in “last orders time”. According to UK media outlets, veteran backbencher Roger Gale warned Johnson that “one more strike and he’s out”.
Ruth Davidson, ex-Scottish Tory leader, was cited by the BBC as saying that the PM was “drinking in the last chance saloon” and MPs were “looking for a bit of bloody grip to be exerted”.
Britain's PM Johnson holds press conference on new coronavirus variant, in London - Sputnik International, 1920, 17.12.2021
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Amid a chorus of voices accusing the Prime Minister of weak leadership and a succession of failings, Jacob Rees-Mogg underscored that is vital to support Boris Johnson’s vision. He touted the fact that England had greatly benefited from his leadership.
“Though the pandemic has been an immense strain on the country, it was only this Prime Minister who had the vision to protect our economy with the furlough and other economic efforts that cost over £400 billion,” insisted the Conservative politician.
He applauded the decision to establish the Vaccines Taskforce, which provided vaccines that saved “countless British lives.” The Lord President of the Council insisted that it was Boris Johnson’s foresight on COVID-19 vaccines and furlough that allowed the nation’s economy to reopen.
“We have seen record job growth, a dynamic economy and a pay rise for many of the UK’s workers,” he wrote in the outlet. Among other achievements, he hailed AUKUS, the newly-signed trade deal with Australia, efforts to sort out issues plaguing the asylum system that would “eject” migrants gaining illegal entry into the country. Johnson’s crackdown on crime by adding an extra 11,000 police officers to the taskforce as part of the Police Uplift Programme and a strategy to tackle serious violence were also singled out.

‘Man Who Delivered Brexit'

Weighing in on the reports of a possible leadership challenge to Boris Johnson from his opponents, Jacob Rees-Mogg warned they “simply lack the dynamism and charisma to take risks”. Rebellious Tory MPs, infuriated by Johnson’s series of blunders and scandals are said to have urged the PM to radically overhaul his Downing Street team.
The demands grew more insistent particularly after Cabinet Secretary Simon Case, tasked with probing No 10 parties during lockdown, quit after it was revealed he was purportedly aware of a Christmas party held by his own private office during that time.
While attempting to placate Tory rebels and steer them away from talk about a new leader, Iain Duncan Smith, former Tory leader and cabinet minister, is cited as warning Johnson that changes need to be made to his staff over the alleged breaches.
“The prime minister just needs to show us really strongly that he not just disapproved, but he’s prepared to get rid of people who are breaking those rules, so he can move on,” he was quoted by the BBC as saying.
However, as part of his principal line of defence, Rees-Mogg insisted that Boris Johnson deserved kudos as “the man who broke the deadlock in Parliament to deliver Brexit. “I have absolute faith in his leadership,” concluded Jacob Rees-Mogg.
Amid the recent scandals, the UK Labour Party has pulled ahead in the polls. The latest Opinium poll for the Observer also shows 57% of voters believe that Boris Johnson should resign. The PM’s personal ratings have also taken a hit, falling to -35%, down 14 points from what was already a record low of -21% two weeks earlier.
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