North Shropshire by-election: Voters begin to cast ballots to choose Owen Paterson successor

Voters have begun to cast their ballots in the North Shropshire by-election as they choose a replacement for former Conservative MP Owen Paterson.

From 7am this morning to 10pm tonight, voters in the constituency will decide on a new local MP following ex-cabinet minister Mr Paterson’s decision to quit the House of Commons last month.

A result in the by-election is due to be declared in the early hours of Friday morning.

Mr Paterson, who served as North Shropshire’s MP for 24 years, won the seat for the Conservatives at the 2019 general election with a near-23,000 majority.

Neil Shastri-Hurst, a barrister and former British Army medical officer, will be hoping to retain the constituency for the Tories as the party’s by-election candidate.

But opposition parties will be looking to diminish Boris Johnson’s Commons majority by taking the seat away from the Conservatives.

Labour’s candidate Ben Wood, who went to school in the constituency, and the Liberal Democrats’ Helen Morgan, a local chartered accountant who previously contested the seat at the 2019 election, will both be hoping to become the newest MP in the Commons.

The Green Party’s Alistair Kerr, Reform UK’s Kirsty Walmsley, The Reclaim Party’s Martin Daubney and UKIP’s Andrea Allen will also be looking for success.

As will independent candidates Suzie Smith Akers and Yolande Kenward, James Elliot of the Heritage Party, Russell Dean of The Party Party, a Rejoin EU candidate known as Boris Been-Bunged, Lord Howling Hope of the Official Monster Raving Loony Party, and Earl Elvis Phillipe Jesse of the Freedom Alliance.

Mr Paterson resigned from the Commons in November in order to escape “the cruel world of politics”.

It came after a furious row over his proposed suspension from the Commons for breaching lobbying rules.

The North Shropshire contest is the second by-election in two weeks’, following Conservative candidate Louie French’s victory in Old Bexley and Sidcup at the beginning of December.

That vote was triggered by the death of former MP and cabinet minister James Brokenshire.

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