According to results released Friday, Britain's Conservative government suffered losses in local elections in their few London strongholds. This will increase pressure on Prime Minister Boris Johnson amid ethics problems and worsening economic conditions.
Voting took place Thursday to elect thousands of local council members. They also decided who would oversee garbage collection and fill potholes.
The Labour Party, the main opposition party, has been out of power in national elections since 2010. It won control of Wandsworth and Barnet, three boroughs that were long held by Conservatives.
Johnson's party also lost ground in the Conservatives’ southern England heartlands to the centrist Liberal Democrats. Many middle-class voters oppose Brexit and are dismayed at the rule-breaking and sexual misconduct accusations swirling around Johnson, and other senior Tories.
With the announcement of results from half of England on Friday morning, Labour has not made any significant gains, particularly in northern England, where the working-class were most vulnerable -- an area Johnson won with his promises to boost local economies and improve opportunities following Britain's departure from the European Union.
Oliver Dowden, chairman of the Conservative Party, acknowledged that the results in London were difficult but stated that the "more mixed picture” elsewhere indicated Labour didn't have the momentum needed to win the next general elections.
Shabana Mahmood (Labour's national campaign coordinator), claimed that the results show that Labour is building a foundation for regaining power after four consecutive national elections defeats.
She stated that Labour was making progress... taking control of key Conservative councils, and winning in crucial Parliamentary battlegrounds throughout the country."
Keir Starmer, Labour leader, said that this was a major turning point. "We have changed Labour and we are now seeing the results."
Starmer's hard left predecessor, Jeremy Corbyn (Jeremy Corbyn), fought between Labour's left-wing wings and more centrist wings. This caused the party to lose its worst election loss in over 80 years to Johnson’s Conservatives in 2019.
The results of Friday's voting were not yet known for the rest of England and all of Scotland, as well as Wales. Voters in Northern Ireland are currently electing a new Assembly of 90 members. Polls suggest that Sinn Fein, the Irish nationalist party, could win the most seats and the position of first minister. This would be a historic first.
Election campaigns in the United Kingdom were dominated by rising fuel and food prices, which has caused household bills to soar.
Opposition parties demand more from the government to reduce the cost of living. This is due to the war in Ukraine and the COVID-19 pandemic. Also, the economic aftershocks resulting from Britain's departure from the European Union. Left-of-center Labour and centrist Liberal Democrats support a windfall tax for energy companies that have posted record profits amid skyrocketing oil and gas prices.
Johnson's Conservative government argues that taxing large firms like Shell or BP would discourage investment in renewable energy, which is crucial to fulfilling Britain's climate commitments.
Johnson was also in turmoil during his tenure as prime minister, and was sanctioned for violating the law while in office. Johnson's election comes after months of chaos. For attending his surprise birthday party in June 2020, when social gatherings were prohibited by lockdown rules, he was given a 50 Pound ($62) fine.
Johnson has since apologized but denied knowing that he had broken the rules. Johnson could face additional fines for violations of the rules by other parties. Police are currently investigating 12 gatherings. A parliamentary investigation is also underway to determine if Johnson misled legislators about his behavior.
There is discontent in his party as well. If Johnson is not successful, Conservatives could try to replace him with someone less unpopular.
Dowden, chairman of the party, acknowledged that there have been "challenging headlines over the past few months."
Sky News: He said that despite all that, he believes that the challenges you would expect to face after 12 years of office are present. These are difficult results, but we have made significant progress in many places."
"Labour is not on the path of power, and I believe Boris Johnson has the leadership skills, particularly the energy and dynamism that we require during this difficult time."