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Conservative candidates at local by-elections are trying to boost their fortunes by boasting about Boris Johnson's resignation on their leaflets
The prime minister has for months been regarded as a drag on Tory support in some parts of the country and activists have wasted no time in capitalising on his resignation.
One leaflet, apparently for a by-election this week in a ward in north London, carries a picture of the prime minister with "He's out!" written in large letters.
The campaigning literature, apparently produced just hours after the news in Westminster broke says: "Last May many of you told us you couldn't vote Conservative while Boris Johnson was prime minister.
"We Camden Conservatives took up your call. It took longer than we wanted by MESSAGE RECEIVED!"
"The Conservatives have listened and Boris Johnson has resigned as PM. WE now ask you to come back to us and give us another change. It's ok to vote Conservative again, starting today in Hampstead Town."
Tulip Siddiq, the local Labour MP for the area, described the campaigning tactic as "absolutely shameless".
"I initially thought this was a Labour leaflet when I saw the photo and the caption," she said.
"This is actually the Tory leaflet that the local Conservative Party are putting out in the Hampstead by-election today."
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She shared a picture of the leaflet, which carries the legally protected text indicating that it is official Tory election literature. The leaflet is unlikely to have been produced centrally and appears to have been put together by local candidates.
Hampstead Town is a marginal ward on Camden London Borough Council and in May 2022 Labour took one of the two seats – narrowly missing out on the second. In 2018 it returned three Conservatives before being reduced to a two-member seat.
The by-election was triggered by the resignation of the elected Labour councillor just months after May's election.
At the May local elections, in which Mr Johnson’s party received a drubbing, many local Tory candidates described themselves as “Local Conservatives” in apparent bids to distance themselves from the unpopular occupant in No 10.
The approach was in stark contrasts to other campaigns, such as 2017, where Tory central office repeatedly referred to candidates as “Theresa May’s team”.