Boris Johnson has become an obstacle to Tory campaigners in the North Shropshire by-election, according to local Conservatives, it has emerged.
Activists say they are repeatedly criticised by people on the doorstep because of several controversies the prime minister has been involved in – the latest of which are allegations of a Downing Street Christmas party and a quiz hosted by Johnson during last winter’s lockdown.
Mark Jones, a Shropshire councillor campaigning with Tory candidate Neil Shastri-Hurst, told The Independent: “I think he’s been a slight hindrance, that’s what people are telling us.
“They are mentioning these things so it becomes our job to get them back to the subject which is making sure we get the right candidate for North Shropshire.”
The by-election should have been an easy win for the Tories, who had a 23,000 majority and held the constituency for around 200 years, but local activists think Johnson has brought them doubts over their strength in the area.
Roy Aldcroft, another Shropshire councillor and the Conservative Mayor of Market Drayton, said: “He gives the general impression that he is a buffoon and that he is not taking things seriously; and what people think of that, I am sure, will come out in the election result.
“And I would say, if we do lose this, he [Johnson] would have to reflect on his position.
“I would like to see the whole issue of who leads us through future elections looked at if we lose. I think that applies even if we win but it’s with a largely reduced majority.”
A third local councillor, Geoff Elner, told The Independent: “Some people do say he’s fantastic but there are an equal number who say, ‘Go away, I’m not going to vote for you again, he’s really put me off’.
“We had a 23,000 majority and that’s dwindled and dwindled and dwindled because of what has been happening [in the government]. We will get in but it will be nowhere the size [of the last general election result].”
Meanwhile, a senior Tory MP also told the newspaper that if the Tories lose the by-election, Johnson “would be in huge trouble”. “A by-election loss will damage the idea of him as an election winner. The public haven’t historically applied the same rules to him but that is fading away.”
Meanwhile, Labour has registered its highest lead in polls since 2014 this weekend.
The party now has a nine-point lead ahead of the Tories, amid corruption controversies involving government representatives.
And a majority of 57 per cent of the voters think Boris Johnson should resign from his role as prime minister, according to the latest Opinium poll. His ratings dropped to -35 per cent, down 14 points from a record low of -21 per cent two weeks ago.
Related: Labour hits highest lead in voter polls since 2014 as Tories reach new lows