Boris Johnson got the Conservative candidate in the upcoming North Shropshire by-election’s name wrong on a visit to the constituency.
The prime minister visited Oswestry in North Shropshire on Friday to give his party a campaign boost, but accidentally referred to Tory candidate Dr Neil Shastri-Hurst as Dr Neil Shastri-Hughes.
The by-election is due to take place on 16 December, having been triggered after the Standards Committee recommended the constituency’s former MP Owen Paterson be suspended from Parliament for 30 days over an “egregious” breach of a ban on paid lobbying by MPs.
The former minister announced his resignation as MP for the constituency following a government U-turn.
Speaking to reporters in Oswestry, Mr Johnson said Dr Shastri-Hurst – a former British Army medical officer and honorary NHS consultant who now works as a barrister – was a “fantastic” candidate.
But the PM proceeded to address Dr Shastri-Hurst incorrectly.
“I think we’ve got a fantastic candidate, Dr Neil Shastri-Hughes, who I’ve just been seen contributing already to the life of the community by vaccinating people, he’s a doctor amongst his many other talents and what he’s also going to do is work very, very hard for the people of North Shropshire,” he said.
“I used to live in this constituency, I used to come shopping in Oswestry, so I know it a bit.
“And he’s got all the issues, he understands what needs to be done, to support the NHS to get investment into our hospitals here but also make sure we do things like, duelling the A5, looking at the Oswestry to Gobowen railway line, other projects like that, I think he’s a fantastic candidate.”
The PM then watched Dr Shastri-Hurst give vaccinations to members of the public at a pharmacy in Oswestry.
North Shropshire is considered to be an ultra-safe rural constituency for the Tories, with Mr Paterson having held it since 1997.
At the 2019 general election, Mr Paterson won almost 63% of the vote and beat Labour by nearly 23,000 votes, with the Lib Dems coming third.
The North Shropshire by-election comes after the Conservatives held their Old Bexley and Sidcup seat at a by-election there on Thursday 2 December.
That by-election was held after the death of former cabinet minister James Brokenshire.