Johnson Loses London Strongholds as Scandals Bite in Local Elections

Early results from the UK’s local elections show Boris Johnson’s ruling Conservatives have lost control of traditional strongholds in London and suffered losses elsewhere.

Voters have seemingly punished the prime minister and his government over a series of scandals and a cost-of-living crisis. 

But the Labour opposition may not have made the gains it had hoped for.

Significantly, Johnson’s party lost Wandsworth in south London, prized as a low-tax Conservative symbol that first turned blue in 1978, the year before Margaret Thatcher came to power. It has also lost Westminster, a district where most government institutions are located — and Barnet in north London, a council it had held in all but two elections since 1964. 

Early results showed the Conservative Party had lost 92 council seats. The main opposition Labour Party had gained 23 seats and the Liberal Democrats 42.

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

But the party has not done as badly as some polls had predicted. One poll in the run up to the elections said the Conservatives could lose about 800 council seats. Nor does the opposition Labour Party appear to have won the sort of breakthrough it was looking for.

Thursday’s elections will decide almost 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.

In Northern Ireland, where results are due later on Friday, Sinn Fein could well become the first Irish nationalist party to win the most seats. 

Johnson’s victory came on the back of promises to “deliver” Brexit and improve living standards in former industrial areas in central and northern England.

The final results will offer the most important snapshot of public opinion since the 2019 general election when Boris Johnson led the Conservatives to a landslide win and the party’s biggest majority in more than 30 years.

The Conservative defeats in London, where they were almost wiped out, will increase pressure on the prime minister who — at least until the Russian invasion of Ukraine — was fighting for his political survival.

Last month Boris Johnson became the first British leader in living memory to have broken the law while in office, when he was fined for breaking COVID-19 lockdown rules. More police fines could follow over his attendance at other gatherings.


Arab Observer

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