Boris Johnson’s attempt to secure leadership after local elections is leaving scars on the Tories


Boris Johnson will use the Queen’s speech to secure his leadership after a series of local elections in which the Tories lost control of key authorities and suffered a net loss of nearly 400 councillors.

Tuesday’s speech, which would set out the UK government’s priorities, will focus on the economy, health and national security, Cabinet Minister Nadhim Zahawi said as he urged Tory MPs to gather around the prime minister.

Mr Zahawi insisted the prime minister who delivered the landslide in the 2019 general election remained an electoral advantage for the Tories, despite problems in No 10 and Westminster being blamed for the local defeats inflicted on the party.

The loss of Wandsworth and Westminster in London to Labor after decades of Tory control and significant defeats by the Liberal Democrats in southern core areas like Woking could persuade more MPs to table a no-confidence letter in the Prime Minister.

The Partygate spate, which saw Mr Johnson and Rishi Sunak fined for breaking coronavirus laws, scandals involving MPs Neil Parish and Imran Ahmad Khan and the cost of living crisis all contributed to difficult results for the Prime Minister.

In a message to Tory colleagues, the Education Secretary said: “People don’t like to vote for divided parties, for teams that are divided.

“We are strongest when we are united. We have a Queen’s Speech next week where we will show the nation that the second half of this Parliament is about fixing the economy and recovering from Covid, the NHS backlog and national security – here too home, safer roads – and of course abroad.

“We have a plan for all of these things.

“We are stronger when we are united and that would be my message to all my colleagues.”

He told Sky News that Mr Johnson remained “absolutely” an electoral advantage: “Boris is cutting through in places like Nuneaton, places like Newcastle-under-Lyme and also in other parts of the country – Harrow in London.”

Harrow offered a rare bright spot in the capital, with the Tories taking over authority from Labour, while the Conservative majority in Newcastle-under-Lyme increased.

But Aaron Bell, MP for Newcastle-under-Lyme, said the Partygate row had popped up on some doorsteps in Staffordshire Council and the issues surrounding Mr Johnson’s leadership needed to be straightened out.

Mr Bell, who has already presented Mr Johnson with a letter of no confidence, told BBC Radio 4’s Today: “It’s not really up to me, it’s up to my colleagues and I’m sure when we return to Westminster there will be a discussion about it.

“What I think is that it needs to be brought to a climax sooner rather than later, because I don’t think we can let this hang over the party for many more months, with the Metropolitan Police and Sue Gray and then the Privileges Committee. “

Scotland Yard is still investigating parties in Downing Street and Whitehall, with the release of Chief Officer Sue Gray’s report awaiting the conclusion of the police investigation.

An analysis by elections expert Professor Sir John Curtice for the BBC calculated that had the country voted as a whole Labor would have won 35% of the vote – five points ahead of the Tories with 30 per cent – the party’s largest lead in local elections for a Decade.

After 196 of the 200 councils announced full results, the Tories had lost 12 authorities and 398 seats, Labor had won eight councils and 264 councillors, the Liberal Democrats had won five councils and 189 councillors.

Labor is facing difficulties of its own after police announced an inquiry into whether leader Sir Keir Starmer broke lockdown rules last year.

Shadow Cabinet minister Jo Stevens said the election results showed the party was ready for government.

“This week’s results have shown that we have regained the confidence of the British public,” she told Times Radio.

“For example, the taking of control of Barnet Council in London, which has a sizeable Jewish population, shows both our party and the country as a whole that Labor, under the leadership of Keir Starmer, has changed over the last two years and that we are ready for the government.”

In Scotland, the Tories slipped to third place as the SNP increased their number of councilors by 22 to 453, while Scottish Labor capitalized on the collapse in Conservative support to finish second.

In Wales, the Tories lost control of their only council, Monmouthshire, and Labour, the Lib Dems and Plaid Cymru all won seats across the country. Boris Johnson’s attempt to secure leadership after local elections is leaving scars on the Tories

Fry Electronics Team

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