Boris Johnson’s PM has come under increasing pressure after the Conservatives lost more than 300 council members in Thursday’s local elections.
In a series of poor results for the Tories, they failed to retain some of their London strongholds, including the Boroughs of Wandsworth and Westminster, which Labor won, ending decades of Conservative rule.
As the extent of the losses became clear on Friday, Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood said his party had “serious problems” and was “losing support in parts of the country”.
Meanwhile, Tory backbencher Roger Gale urged Mr Johnson to leave. He had previously said the Prime Minister should remain in office because of the geopolitical challenges posed by the war in Ukraine.
As well as being criticized by some of his MPs, Mr Johnson has also been accused by local Tory activists who suggested scandals like Partygate had marred their campaigns.
However, the prime minister tried to downplay his party’s losses during a visit to his constituency on Friday morning.
“We’ve had a tough night in some parts of the country,” he admitted, before claiming the Tories had made “rather remarkable gains” elsewhere.
However, the BBC predicts Labor would win 291 seats if general election were held now based on Friday’s results, compared to 253 for the Conservatives.
Although this would still leave Labor without a majority, it signals a major turning point in the fortunes of the 2019 general election, when the Tories won a large majority.
Opposition parties celebrated their wins in local elections, with Labour’s Keir Starmer calling the results a “watershed moment”, while the Liberal Democrats’ Ed Davey said they would send an ‘all-powerful shockwave’ through British politics.
With almost all councils now declared, here are the five biggest moments of Thursday’s local elections:
Westminster City Council turns red
From its inception in 1964, Westminster City Council has always been Conservative-controlled up until this week.
Labor’s remarkable victory here came just two hours after the Tories lost Wandsworth, Margaret Thatcher’s favorite Council, who had led her party since 1978.
The Conservatives also lost Barnet, whose former council leader said the defeat should be seen as a “warning shot” by the government.
Jonathan Carr-West, chief executive of the Local Government Information Unit (LGiU), said the loss of Barnet, Wandsworth and Westminster councils had dealt a “major blow” to Conservative morale.
Labor turns Wandsworth Council over
In one of their biggest victories in local elections this year, Labor managed to take control of Wandsworth Council, a Tory stronghold for the last 44 years.
Labor leaders including Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, celebrated the historic victory on Friday.
“Boris Johnson’s loss of Wandsworth is monumental. That was the Tories’ crown jewel,” said a Labor source.
“Wandsworth voters have put their faith in the change that Keir Starmer’s Labor represents,” they added.
Ravi Govindia, the outgoing Conservative leader of Wandsworth Council, blamed the party’s national image for the outcome.
“Let’s not be shy, of course national issues were part of the dilemma people faced,” he said.
Liberal Democrats win in Somerset
The Liberal Democrats won Somerset County Council, a part of the country that normally supports the Tories.
Ed Davey’s party won a majority of 61 seats, while the Conservatives took 36 of the 110 seats.
Bill Revans, the new leader of the Liberal Democrat Council, said: “After 13 years of having the Conservatives in charge of Somerset County Council, I think that was the case [a feeling of] ‘It’s time for a change’ and people wanted to give the heart back to Somerset.”
In a development unrelated to the local elections, police announced that Labor leader Keir Starmer and his deputy leader Angela Rayner are under investigation for possible Covid-19 violations.
First, Durham Constabulary said it would not take any action over an incident in April 2021.
“At this point it has been determined that no criminal offense has been established and therefore no further action will be taken,” a spokesman said.
However, they added that an investigation is now underway after receiving “new information”.
In response, Mr Starmer said he was “confident no rules were broken”.
Sinn Fein forecast to win the most seats at Stormont
Although all the results from Northern Ireland have not yet been announced, the Republican party Sinn Féin is expected to do well in the Stormont general election.
So said poll guru Sir John Curtice the BBC that the party would definitely win the most votes, having garnered 27 percent of the vote in 11 of the country’s 18 constituencies, compared to the DUP’s 24 percent.
However, he said he could not guarantee that this would earn Sinn Fein the most seats at Stormont.
Sinn Fein Chairwoman Mary Lou McDonald said this week is “about change, it’s about progress and it’s about partnership.”
Meanwhile, DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said: “I think it will be very close in the end who will emerge as the strongest party.”
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/local-elections-2022-tory-losses-b2073459.html Local elections: The five biggest moments the Tories lose historic councils and hundreds of seats