A SENIOR Scottish Conservative MSP has launched a veiled attack on Boris Johnson after the Toriessignificant defeat in the North Shropshire by-election.

The ultra-safe Tory seat, previously held by scandal-hit Owen Paterson, was lost to the LibDems, as candidate Helen Morgan overturned a majority of nearly 23,000.

Political commentators have read the result as formerly loyal Tory voters turning their backs on Johnson, who has been hit by weeks of headlines about Downing Street parties and Conservative sleaze.

Some Tory backbenchers have expressed their anger over the loss of the seat. Veteran backbencher Sir Roger Gale warned the Prime Minister: “One more strike and he’s out.”

READ MORE: North Shropshire: Liberal Democrat attacks on Nicola Sturgeon back to haunt them

This month, Scottish Tory chief Douglas Ross has struggled to defend the PM against the many negative stories. He said he was “angry” about the evidence of lockdown socialising, and failed to list the positive qualities of Johnson when prompted.

Now MSP Murdo Fraser, the Scottish Tory spokesman on Covid recovery, has indicated his own concerns over the North Shropshire result.

The MSP for the Mid-Scotland and Fife region showed his sympathy for the party’s candidate. “Got to feel for poor @DrNShastriHurst this morning, a good guy who will be back. It’s always the poor bloody infantry who take the hits, while back at HQ the General’s glass is being topped up.” The comment was followed by an angry-face emoji.

Speaking on Friday afternoon, Johnson said he takes “personal responsibility” for the Tories’ North Shropshire by-election loss.

The National:

At a vaccination centre at Hillingdon Hospital in London, Johnson said: “I’m responsible for everything that the Government does and of course I take personal responsibility.”

Asked which things going wrong under his watch were to blame for the defeat, he 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.

“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.”