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In the UK, Johnson faces a cold shower in by-elections

In the UK, Johnson faces a cold shower in by-elections

UNITED KINGDOM – Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party has lost key local councils in London in the British local elections, according to the first results this Friday, May 6, of a ballot which has the value of prime minister test and promises to be historic in Northern Ireland.

The Labor opposition won the local councils of Westminster in London, in the hands of the Tories since its creation in 1964, Barnet as well as Wandsworth, “favourite council” of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Labor Mayor of London Sadiq Khan hailed a “historic” victory.

Labor also won Southampton (southern England), but outside the capital, Labor is so far making only limited gains, while smaller parties, the Liberal Democrats and Greens, are dropping out. good results.

Gauging the extent of Partygate’s damage

Although traditionally marked by very local issues and low participation, these elections, which were held on Thursday, should in particular make it possible to gauge the extent of the Damage from Downing Street holiday scandal during lockdownsa long-term affair that has resulted in Boris Johnson being fined.

In power for 12 years, the Conservatives are also criticized for their insufficient support for households strangled by inflation, which should peak this year at more than 10% according to the central bank.

On Twitter, former Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May’s chief of staff Gavin Barwell called the loss of Wandworth and Westminster “catastrophic” and a “warning shot”.

“Partygate” versus “Beergate”

Conservative party chairman Oliver Dowden tried to temper, putting these “difficult results” in line with what can be expected from a mid-term election.

If a poor result risks leading some MPs in his majority to withdraw their confidence in Boris Johnson, the party leader said on Sky News that the Tories should keep Boris Johnson in charge.

The popularity of Boris Johnson, 57, soon to be three in Downing Street, collapsed after the “partygate”. He has so far weathered the storm, highlighting his leading role in Western support for Ukraine, and says he is determined to stay in power and lead the battle for the next legislative elections in 2024.

Labour, the main opposition party, hopes to take advantage of its weaknesses, even if its leader, Keir Starmer, 59, has himself been accused of breaking health rules for sharing beers and curries with his team. last year.

Political earthquake to be expected in Northern Ireland

For now, the results of just over a third of the 200 local councils in play have fallen. Expected in the morning in Scotland and Wales, the vote count has started in Northern Ireland, where the 90 elected members of the local assembly of Stormont are renewed. The first results are expected on Friday afternoon, but the counting of votes in the complex Northern Irish system must continue on Saturday or even beyond.

In Northern Ireland, a political earthquake is looming: the polls give Sinn Fein the lead in the local Assembly for the first time in a hundred years of history of the British province, under tension since Brexit. A victory for Sinn Fein, the former political showcase of the paramilitary organization Irish Republican Army (IRA), would propel its vice-president Michelle O’Neill to the post of head of local government, which is to be jointly led by nationalists and unionists. under the 1998 peace accord.

It would initiate a possible redefinition of the United Kingdom: the party advocates reunification with the Republic of Ireland, even if it has relegated this claim to the background in favor of social issues in the face of ultra-conservative unionists.

But the risk of a political paralysis hovers. After voting in Belfast on Thursday, DUP Unionist leader Jeffrey Donaldson repeated that his party would refuse to participate in a new executive if the British government refused to act on the difficulties posed by post-Brexit customs controls, which according to the Unionists threaten the province’s place within the United Kingdom.

See also on The HuffPost: PartyGate: Boris Johnson Apologizes

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