Boris Johnson braced for loss of hundreds of local council seats and fresh Tory infighting

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Thursday 05 May 2022 19:06
Comments
Boris Johnson casts his vote in local elections with his dog Dilyn

Boris Johnson is braced for the likely loss of hundreds of council seats in crucial local elections expected to trigger fresh Conservative infighting over his future.

Voters across the country are delivering their verdict in the first big test of public opinion since the Partygate scandal broke – and with the Metropolitan Police set to announce further fines, once the polls have closed.

The Conservatives are likely to lose “a few hundred seats”, according to the elections guru John Curtice, paying the price for a collapse in support over the No 10 parties and the cost-of-living crisis.

At Westminster, Tory rebels hoping to topple Mr Johnson will resume “conversations” about their tactics as soon as the polls close at 10pm on Thursday, one MP has predicted.

Polling day also brought fresh condemnation at the prime minister from his former chief aide Dominic Cummings, who repeated his call for “regime change”.

A vote for the Conservatives was a vote for “more taxes regulation” he tweeted, as well as “neglect of security/armed forces” and “A&E disasters/NHS neglect” and “idiots babbling about trans”.

The first results are due from midnight on Thursday, with the verdicts from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, South Tyneside and Wigan indicating whether Labour’s vote is holding up in its northern strongholds.

After 2am, the result from Sunderland, where the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats hope to end 40 years of Labour control, will be a crucial “red wall” test.

Key results from London will follow, first from Westminster, which is a Labour long shot and where a loss will be disastrous for the Tories who have run the council since 1964.

After 5am, it will be revealed whether Labour has managed to retake Southampton from Conservative control and snatch Wandsworth, another flagship London Tory stronghold.

All 32 councils in Scotland and all 22 in Wales are holding elections – as well as the Northern Ireland Assembly, where the nationalist Sinn Fein party is poised to secure a historic victory.

Mr Johnson voted early at a polling station in Westminster, arriving on foot and waving to reporters, although one perplexed member of the public wondered aloud: “Is that Simon Cowell?”

After voting, the prime minister tweeted a video in which he said of his party “it’s Conservatives who deliver, Conservatives who get the bins collected”.

Keir Starmer held hands with his wife Victoria as he arrived at a polling station in Kentish Town, north London, to cast his vote in the local elections for Camden Council.

The Labour leader tweeted afterwards: “Today is our chance to send the Tories a message they can’t ignore: Britain deserves better.”

Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrat leader, voting in southwest London, predicted the Conservatives would be punished for failing to ease the pain of fast-rising living costs.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in