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UK Tories lose key local councils as Boris Johnson issues sting – POLITICO

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LONDON Boris Johnson’s Tories have lost control of key councils in London and the south of England, with the Labor Party claiming local elections represent a turning point.

Local polls will be seen as a litmus test of Johnson’s leadership midway through the legislature as he grapples with a cost-of-living crisis and the partygate scandal.

Labor took control of the traditional Tory strongholds of Wandsworth and Westminster in the capital while the Liberal Democrats took control of Hull in the North West of England and won a handful of seats in the South West .

While dozens of local authorities have yet to declare, Labor national campaign co-ordinator Shabana Mahmood hailed a turning point that showed voters have faith in the change Keir Starmer’s work represents.

However, it hasn’t all been rosy for the opposition as they have lost votes from 2018 in the North and Midlands, where they will need to make big gains in the next general election if they are to win power at national level. national.

A Conservative Party official admitted the Tories faced tough competition in London but insisted it was a bad night for Labor in the rest of the country.

Voters also went to the polls in a crucial Northern Ireland Assembly election and Scottish local elections, but those results will not be known until later on Friday.

Local Tory leaders blamed their losses both on the cost-of-living crisis and on the management of Johnson, who faced lingering questions about his integrity following the long-running partygate scandal.

Ravi Govindia, leader of the Tories in Wandsworth, said ‘inevitably other events have clouded the judgment of the people of Wandsworth’ and admitted people had raised ‘the Boris Johnson issue’ during the campaign.

Royston Smith, a Tory MP for Southampton where the party also lost control of the local council to Labour, urged the Prime Minister and Chancellor to do more to help people cope with pressure on household budgets created by rising inflation and rising energy bills.

The Tories were more positive about their fortunes in the North East and Midlands, with one party official pointing out that Labor had retreated in places such as Sunderland, Hartlepool, Nuneaton and Sandwell.

Robert Jenrick, a former cabinet minister, said the results did not suggest “people are flocking to the banner of Keir Starmer” or that Labor is on course to win the next general election.

Deputy Liberal Democrat leader Daisy Cooper claimed her party was making progress across the country, citing strong results in Colchester in Essex, south-west London and Gosport in Hampshire, as well as the takeover of Hull .

The Green Party made inroads, winning seats in South Tyneside in the northeast and the Wirral in the northwest.

The city of Bristol has voted to remove its directly elected mayor, a position introduced a decade ago.

Turnout has fallen by an average of 2.5% from local elections last year, but John Curtice, professor of politics at the University of Strathclyde, said there was no evidence that it had disproportionately harmed the Conservatives.

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2/ https://www.politico.eu/article/uk-elections-2022-results-conservatives-lose-key-local-councilsboris-johnson-problems-bite/

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