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Johnson seeks to make better use of poor poll results

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The results of Boris Johnson’s local election on Friday were “on the lower limit of barely acceptable,” said one former Conservative cabinet prisoner, looking at the scene of heavy Tory losses. After the events of recent months, it will be taken by the Prime Minister.

At first glance, Johnson had to plunge into darkness Conservative Defeat Daywhich began early when the Tories lost their flagship London councils of Wandsworth and Westminster.

Conservative council leaders blamed Johnson for the failures that led to hundreds of lost seats, and one Tory MP said: “Good councils are lost because a significant number of our traditional supporters no longer trust the prime minister. He needs to go. “

Many Conservative MPs saw the May 5 local election as a key test for Johnson: can he still win after scandal with the party gate? Last month, he became the first British prime minister to commit a crime after police fined him for attending a birthday party on Downing Street in June 2020 during the first Covid-19 closing in England.

But on Friday Johnson was in bullish form, his allies ridiculed the mixed results of Labor outside London, which they claimed demonstrated party leader Sir Keir Starmer was unable to win the next general election. Labor, in particular, has failed to make significant strides in its former Red Wall areas in the north of England and has even lost Kingston upon Hull to the Liberal Democrats.

“The fact that Labor lost Hal but won Mayfair tells you everything you need to know about them,” said one Tory official after a cheerful conversation with Johnson’s team. “We have been reminded that we are now on the ground of an election war.”

There was a feeling that things could be worse on Downing Street before the exalted Johnson received the news at lunch that police were once again checking whether Starmer had violated the blockade rules by drinking curry and beer with other Labor figures during the April election campaign. . 2021

One cabinet minister said: “The results in London are bad, but Boris will be relieved by the results in the rest of the country. And given the Starmer beergate investigation, it was a good week for the prime minister. “

In the run-up to the local election, Starmer faced questions about collecting curry and beer at Durham Miners Hall last year when indoor communication was banned in England.

Lobbyists stressed rules that exempted from the restriction on indoor meetings if they were “reasonably necessary” for work purposes. Emily Thornbury, the shadow attorney general, said Friday: “We are confident that no rules have been broken.”

But a Durham police investigation into Starmer could potentially help Johnson bring the border under the party gate scandal before it does him more harm.

Starmer, a former director of the state’s attorney’s office, has taken a tough stance on the case, and he and his deputy Angela Rayner have called on Johnson to resign long before the prime minister was fined by metropolitan police.

In January, Starmer tweeted that “honesty and decency” are important in politics, and said Johnson should resign immediately because he is “under criminal investigation for violating his own blocking laws.”

Johnson, who is still under investigation by police for attending other parties in Whitehall during the Covid restrictions, and is awaiting a full report from senior civil servant Sue Gray on the case, eagerly grabbed Starmer’s plight.

“He thinks Starmer raised his own firecracker because of his constant moralizing on the matter,” said one Tory close to Johnson. “Starmer is a hypocrite,” added one insider number 10.

Keir Starmer talks to fans near StoneX Stadium in Barnett, a North London council that has moved away from Labor. © Jonathan Brady / PA

In Westminster, there was a growing sense that the party gate might not be the problem that is knocking down the prime minister. Conservative MPs showed no appetite after the local election results to win a no-confidence vote against Johnson’s leadership by writing letters to Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Tory Supporters’ Committee.

For Johnson, the difficult state of the economy became his greatest political threat, with The Bank of England warns this week inflation in excess of 10 percent, rising unemployment and a possible recession.

Tory MPs and cabinet ministers are urging Johnson to both cut taxes and increase government spending to help his constituents. Chancellor Rishi Sunak warned that higher government borrowing and higher spending could simply boost inflation.

Sir Ed Davy, leader of the Liberal Democrats, said his party’s success in local elections across the country reflects public concerns about the cost of living crisis and the NHS, not the 10th party. Labor is now shifting its focus to the economy.

For Starmer, success in the London election were quickly marred by the realization that outside the capital the parties were not doing so well.

Starmer welcomes how Labor has seized control of the Cumberland and Southampton councils, as well as three London boroughs: Wandsworth, Westminster and Barnet. “We have sent a message to the Prime Minister, the UK deserves better,” he said. Scotland was another significant bright spot for Labor.

But Labor’s results on Friday did not give a clear impression of the government’s anticipation, and were delighted by particularly strong demonstrations in liberal urban areas that previously remained, such as London.

“I would describe the results as lasting,” said one member of the shadow cabinet. Other high-ranking Labor figures use the same adjective to describe the managerial but not particularly charismatic Starmer.

“He’s less of a showman than Johnson, but more importantly, to work out our response to the economic car crash, we’re on the verge of something like a wartime economy,” said one union leader.

Chris Hopkins, deputy director of the Savanta ComRes poll, said Labor’s leadership in the national opinion poll had declined since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and agreed that the economy would determine what happened next in Westminster.

“Currently, it does not feel that Labor is doing enough to bring voters back to the cost of living crisis,” he added.

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