The ballot was a test for Boris Johnson – and its results are, for the time being, against him. According to the first counts carried out on Friday May 6, Boris Johnson’s Conservative party lost key local councils in London in the local elections.
The Labor opposition thus won the local councils of Westminster in London, in the hands of the Tories since its creation in 1964, Barnet as well as Wandsworth, “favorite advice” by Margaret Thatcher. On Twitter, former Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May’s former chief of staff Gavin Barwell has called “catastrophic” and of “warning shot” the loss of Wandworth and Westminster. The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan (Labour), hailed him a victory “historical”.
Labor also won Southampton, south London. Outside the capital, however, Labor is making only limited gains so far, while smaller parties, the Liberal Democrats (LibDem) and The Green Party, are doing well. According to the results, still partial, the Conservatives lost eleven councils and more than 170 seats compared to 2018, while Labor won seven councils and more than 110 additional elected officials. Labor Party leader Keir Starmer hailed a “turning” : “We sent a message to the Prime Minister, Britain deserves better”did he declare, before tweeting : “The change starts now. »
Conservative Party Chairman Oliver Dowden tried to temper, putting these “difficult results” in line with what can be expected from a vote that takes place at mid-term. From his constituency, west of London, Boris Johnson spoke about the results “mixed”. He recognized a “hard night” Thursday, for conservatives in some areas but claimed progress in others.
Northern Ireland coveted by nationalists
The vote count began in the morning in Scotland and Wales, as 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, and even beyond.
The poll is of particular significance in Northern Ireland, where polls give Sinn Fein the lead in the local assembly for the first time in the British province’s 100-year history. A victory for this former political showcase of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) paramilitary organization would propel its deputy chair, Michelle O’Neill, to the post of head of local government, which is to be run jointly by nationalists and unionists under of the 1998 peace accord.
Such a victory would also initiate a possible redefinition of the United Kingdom, because Sinn Fein advocates reunification with the Republic of Ireland. After voting in Belfast on Thursday, the leader of the main loyalist formation, Jeffrey Donaldson, repeated that his formation, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), would refuse to participate in a new executive if the British government did not suspend the special status post -Brexit from the province which loyalists say damages ties with the rest of the UK.
Although traditionally marked by very local issues and low turnout, these elections held on Thursday should also make it possible to gauge in British opinion the extent of the damage from the holiday scandal in Downing Street during the confinements. This long-term affair, known as “Partygate”, had earned Boris Johnson the sanctioned by a fine mid-April, as did some fifty other politicians and civil servants, including the wife of the head of government, Carrie Johnson, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer (finance minister), Rishi Sunak.
Labour, the main opposition party, hoped to take advantage of its weaknesses, even if its leader, Keir Starmer, 59, was himself accused of breaking health rules for sharing beers and curries with his team last year.
In power for twelve 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. Some peripheral aid, not negligible, has been put in place, but nothing that can compensate for the shock – particularly for poor households. Rishi Sunak warned as early as March 19: “We can’t help everyone, because it’s too expensive. »