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British Prime Minister Johnson loses his stronghold in London due to scandals in local elections

British Prime Minister Johnson loses his stronghold in London due to scandals in local elections
  • Conservatives lose Westminster, Wandsworth strongholds
  • He was seen holding out in the central and northern regions supporting Brexit
  • The results are a test of Johnson’s popularity

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 for 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.

For the first time, the opposition Labor Party won Westminster House, a district where most government institutions are located. The Conservatives also lost control of Barnet, which the party has held in all but two elections since 1964.

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“Fantastic result, absolutely fantastic. Believe me, this is a huge turning point for us from the depths of the 2019 general election,” Labor leader Keir Starmer told supporters in London.

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 national memo.

Preliminary findings suggest that while the Conservatives have struggled in parts of their traditional southern strongholds, support for the party has held in areas of central and northern England that backed leaving the European Union in 2016.

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The ballot is an electoral test for Johnson 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

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.

The loss of Wandsworth, Barnet and 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 has cost him support in London, where a majority of voters supported remaining in the EU.

Outside the capital, the Conservatives have lost overall 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.

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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.

Conservative leader Oliver Dowden said the party had “achieved some tough results”, but Labor was not on track to win the next general election.

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 and Elizabeth Piper); Editing by Kenneth Maxwell, Stephen Coates and Andrew Heavens

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.