Boris Johnson has 'dodged the bullet' on MP revolt says Portillo
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The Conservatives have suffered several embarrassing defeats at England’s local elections after losing key council seats. According to the results announced so far, the Tories have lost more than 100 councillors. Labour seized Wandsworth – Margaret Thatcher’s “favourite council” – from the Tories, which has remained blue since 1978. The party also took Barnet and Westminster in shock wins, while also gaining control of Southampton City Council.
However, the Tory losses do not directly equate to Labour gains, as Sir Keir Starmer’s party failed to make inroads in some areas of its traditional heartlands, while also losing Hull to the Liberal Democrats.
Before voters cast their ballots on Thursday, Conservative losses were widely expected after Prime Minister Boris Johnson became embroiled in the Partygate scandal over parties in Downing Street that broke COVID-19 lockdown rules.
He, his wife Carrie Johnson and the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak were all fined by the Metropolitan Police for their involvement.
With Mr Johnson still at the helm, the Conservatives are set to “lose the next General Election”, according to Dr Nicholas Dickinson, a political expert from the University of Oxford.
Speaking to Express.co.uk ahead of the elections, he said: “I think with Johnson in charge there is every indication that the Conservatives would lose their majority at the next election.
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“With a different leader it is very difficult to say. The Conservative brand I think is not necessarily damaged by this in the long run.
“But that remains to be seen. Certainly, with Johnson as leader the polling is bad and if anything is getting worse.
“And the longer he stays, the longer that damage is prolonged. The longer his negative ratings begin to affect the Conservative Party in a more long-term way.”
One of the most damaging polls before the elections from mid-April predicted the Tories could shed as many as 800 seats across the UK.
The polling of more than 12,000 people by Electoral Calculus and Find Out Now also put Sir Keir on course to become Prime Minister at the next General Election, which is slated for 2024.
However, not all the election results have gone Labour’s way, as the Liberal Democrats have managed to make a comeback from the political wilderness.
Meanwhile, on Friday afternoon, as election results continued to come in, it was announced that Sir Keir will be investigated by the police over an allegation he broke lockdown rules last year.
The Labour leader was videoed drinking a beer and eating a curry with colleagues in Durham as he campaigned for the Hartlepool by-election in April 2021.
Amid the election fallout, Mr Johnson admitted it had been a “tough” night for the Tories.
He said: “We’ve had a tough night in some parts of the country.
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“But on the other hand, in other parts of the country, you’re still seeing Conservatives going forward and making quite remarkable gains.”
The Prime Minister also described the results as “mixed”.
Dr Dickinson claimed that if negative polling translates into losses of council seats, the Prime Minister could eventually be removed in a confidence vote.
Speaking about Partygate, he said: “Assuming that we don’t have any more revelations that move this scandal on or push it into even more serious territory, I think it is going to be the local elections.
“Politicians do read polls and they do care about them, but they pay much more attention to election results.
“And I think if we start to see some of the negative polling crystallise in actual losses of Council seats, that will be the point really, at which I think the crunch point will come for the party.
“They will decide that the political damage is severe enough that they need to do something about it. They can’t leave it any longer.”
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