Published: 08:09, 17 December 2021
| Updated: 15:36, 17 December 2021
A Kent MP has warned the Prime Minister he has "one more strike and he's out" after a devastating shock by-election defeat.
The Conservatives lost the Shropshire North seat yesterday after the Liberal Democrats overturned a huge Tory majority to win by nearly 6,000 votes.
The result has led to more questions about Boris Johnson's leadership and North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale says he must use the Christmas break to "re-group".
In a tweet this morning, he said: "This election result reflects the very real anger felt by the electorate towards Downing Street.
"The Prime Minister now has the Christmas recess to re-group.
"Nobody wants a leadership challenge in the middle of the pandemic but one more strike and he's out".
Sir Roger told Sky News he “would not be a bit surprised” if Tory MPs started to write letters of no confidence to the 1922 Committee.
"I don't want to detract from Ellen Morgan's very considerable victory, but this wasn't a vote for the Liberal Democrats, this was effectively a referendum of the performance coming out of Downing Street," he added.
The by-election, triggered by the resignation of Owen Paterson following a sleaze scandal, saw a massive swing to the Lib Dems of 34%.
The former minister had a near-23,000 majority in the West Midlands constituency in the 2019 general election when Mr Johnson achieved a landslide, but support evaporated as the Tories battle damning allegations on multiple fronts.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4, Sir Roger said: "The British electorate wanted to send a very clear message to Downing Street that they are dissatisfied with the management of this government and absolute [with the prime minister].
"I think the prime minister is in last orders time. One more strike and he's out, the Conservative party have a reputation for not taking prisoners, and if a Prime Minister fails then he goes.
"We got rid of a good PM to install Mr Johnson, he now has to prove that he's a good PM and it's quite clear that the public don't currently feel that's the case."
He also told Sky that he expected the upcoming Southend by-election to be contested and feared another 'protest vote' was incoming.
Labour and the Liberal Democrats had previously said that they would not contest the seat, which had been held by Sir David Amess before his murder in October.
However, Sir Roger said: "It's going to be an odd situation as the Liberals and Labour said they would not fight it... it is going to be fought, and it's quite possible that if we're not careful there will be another protest vote there.
"This is not a happy time for the Prime Minister."
The vote came after the beleaguered Mr Johnson has been battered by claims of lockdown-breaching parties in Downing Street and faced a rebellion from his own backbenchers, including five from Kent, over the use of Covid passes.