PM speaks out over "constant litany of stuff about politicians" after by-election defeat

17 December 2021, 12:53 | Updated: 17 December 2021, 13:02

Boris Johnson has accepted 'personal responsibility' for the Tory by-election defeat in North Shropshire
Boris Johnson has accepted 'personal responsibility' for the Tory by-election defeat in North Shropshire. Picture: Alamy

By Asher McShane

Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoken out over a "constant litany of stuff" about politics and politicians in recent weeks after the 'very disappointing' drubbing in the North Shropshire by-election.

Speaking during a visit to a vaccination centre in Hillingdon, Mr Johnson was asked whether he was blaming the public or the media for focusing on the wrong things.

Mr Johnson was asked: “Do you believe that you trying to change the sleaze rules in favour of you and your colleagues, which triggered the by-election, which caused this defeat, do you accept hands up responsibility for that?

He replied: “I do, because it goes back to exactly what I was just saying. It comes into the overall category of politicians talking about ourselves and those issues, and seeming to be focussed on those issues, at the expense of things that really matter to people.”

Read more: 'Boris, the party is over': Lib Dem North Shropshire by-election win piles pressure on PM

Mr Johnson said: "I think that people are frustrated and I understand that... Basically what's been going wrong... is that in the last few weeks some things have been going very well, but what the people have been hearing... is just a constant litany of stuff about politics and politicians and stuff that isn't about them and isn't about the things that we can do to make life better. "

He said: "And so to that extent, of course, you're right - and I think the job of the Government is to make people like you... interested in the booster rollout and in skills, and in housing, and in everything else that we're doing.

"And unfortunately, you're totally right, we haven't been able to get the focus on those issues."

"Clearly the vote in North Shropshire is a very disappointing result.

"I totally understand people's frustrations. I hear what the voters are saying in North Shropshire. In all humility I have got to accept that verdict.

"I understand that what voters want us as the Government to be doing at all times is to focus on them and their priorities."

Mr Johnson also admitted failing to get his message across over the past few weeks.

"I think my job is to get over what we're doing more effectively and to show people that, as a result of the fastest vaccine rollout and the fastest booster rollout in Europe, that we've got more jobs than before the pandemic began...

"I've got to put my hands up and say 'have I failed to get that message across in the last few weeks? Has it been obscured by all this other stuff?' Yes, I'm afraid it has."

Lib Dem Helen Morgan was declared the winner in the North Shropshire by-election in the early hours of Friday morning, defeating the Tories by 5,925 votes in the ballot triggered by the resignation of Owen Paterson.