December 10, 2023


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British Prime Minister Johnson suffers heavy losses in London in local elections

British Prime Minister Johnson suffers heavy losses in London in local elections

  • Conservatives lose control of London councils
  • The results are a test of Johnson’s popularity
  • Poor performance will increase pressure on Johnson

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party has lost control of its traditional strongholds in London and suffered losses elsewhere in local elections, early results showed on Friday, as voters punished his government over a series of scandals.

Johnson’s party has been ousted in Wandsworth, a low-tax Conservative bastion since 1978, and is part of a trend in the British capital where voters have used the election to express anger over the cost-of-living crisis and fines imposed on the prime minister for breaching special COVID-19 lockdown rules.

The Conservatives lost control of Barnet, which the party has held in all but two elections since 1964. Labor also believes it won for the first time the House of Westminster, an area where most government institutions are located. Read more

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“This is a warning shot from Conservative voters,” said Daniel Thomas, Conservative leader of Barnet Council.

The tally, due later on Friday, will provide the most important snapshot of public opinion since Johnson won the largest Conservative party majority in more than 30 years in the 2019 general election.

The ballot is Johnson’s first electoral test since he became the first British leader in living memory to break the law while in office. He was fined last month for attending a birthday gathering in his office in 2020, and for breaching social distancing rules then in place to limit the spread of COVID. Read more

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Preliminary results showed that the Conservative Party lost 92 seats in the Council. The main opposition Labor Party won 23 seats and the Liberal Democrats 42 seats.

The loss of key councils in London, where the Conservatives have been nearly wiped out, will pile more pressure on Johnson, who has been fighting for his political survival for months and facing the prospect of more police fines for attending other rallies to break the lockdown.

Thursday’s election will settle nearly 7,000 council seats, including all those in London, Scotland and Wales, and a third of the seats in most of the rest of England.

Johnson upended traditional British politics in the 2019 general election with a victory and then promised to improve living standards in the former industrial regions of central and northern England.

But the loss of Wandsworth, Barnet and possibly Westminster symbolizes the way in which Johnson, who won two terms as mayor of London, has lost his appeal in the capital. His support for Brexit cost him support in London, where a majority of voters supported remaining in the European Union in the 2016 Brexit referendum.

The outcome outside the capital is likely to be less clear. The Conservatives lost complete control of the councils in Southampton, Worcester, and West Oxfordshire.

But the party’s performance was not as bad as some opinion polls had expected. One poll in the run-up to the election said the Conservatives could lose about 800 seats in the House.

John Curtis, a professor of politics at the University of Strathclyde, said early trends suggested the Conservatives were on track to lose about 250 seats. He said the results indicate that the Labor Party may not emerge as the largest party in the upcoming elections.

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However, some local Conservative leaders called on Johnson to resign after the party’s poor performance, which they blamed on his fines and the cost-of-living crisis.

John Mallinson, the Conservative leader of Carlisle City Council, told the BBC he had found it “difficult to bring the discussion back to local issues”.

“I don’t feel that people anymore have confidence that the prime minister can be relied on to tell the truth,” he said.

Simon Bucher, Portsmouth’s top Conservative, said the party’s leadership in Westminster needed to “take a long hard look in the mirror” to see why they lost seats.

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Reporting by Andrew McCaskill. Editing by Kenneth Maxwell and Stephen Coates

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.