Local election results: Boris could call ‘early general election’ to keep Tories in power

Local elections not 'too shabby’ for PM says Kuenssberg

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On Thursday, Britons across England, Scotland and Wales cast their ballots as part of the latest round of local elections. The polls gave residents the chance to reshape their regional authorities and councils, while also gaining input on national matters such as the cost of living crisis.

As of 11am on Friday, May 6, the Conservatives have recorded losses with regards to both the number of councils and councillors they entered the local elections with.

Currently, they have secured 19 (-6) councils and 546 (-121) councillors.

In comparison, their arch-rivals Labour have won 38 (+3) councils and 1,209 (+34) councillors.

Sir Keir Starmer’s party has managed to take three symbolic London councils from the Tories, including Westminster, which had previously been under their control since 1964.

Labour also secured the Conservative strongholds of Wandsworth and Barnet, the latter of which it has gained power over for the first time.

Results have so far gone the way most pollsters had predicted, with Labour making significant ground on the Tories.

Political analysts have been keenly awaiting these polls, hoping to gain the clearest picture of voting intention since the 2019 general election.

Oliver Dowden, Co-Chairman of the Conservative Party, told Sky News that “difficult headlines” had affected results for his party at the local elections.

However, he refused to accept that a positive showing for Labour suggests the Conservatives will be ousted from Government at the next general election in May 2024.

What now for Boris Johnson?

A poor showing for the Tories is likely to provide further vindication for those MPs who are seeking a Conservative leadership contest.

However, Dr Rod Dacombe, Director at the Centre for British Politics and Government from King’s College London, told Express.co.uk that he believes such a development is “unlikely” in part due to there being “no real stand out” candidates to replace Mr Johnson.

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He added a better than expected performance from the Tories in the local elections would also help to stave off a challenge to Mr Johnson’s premiership.

Instead, Dr Dacombe believes what is more likely to happen is a early general election

He said: “There’s been a lot of talk about the use of the threat of a general election to keep MPs in line. To kind of hold back a leadership challenge and that’s one way of looking at it.

“My sense isn’t that though. I think there’s a real will to hold a general election. And actually if I was in No 10 at the moment I would be thinking OK the results from the local elections weren’t fantastic but they could have been much much worse.

“How much worse is it going to get? If you call a general election now, say late summer, you’re going to be in this environment and this broad spread of votes unless things change dramatically.

“If you don’t call an election now then you’re waiting until the Autumn or possibly into next year.

“In the Autumn we’re going to have a further squeeze on the cost of living. By then, the Sue Gray report will almost certainly have wrapped up.

“A whole bunch of other things could happen which could negatively affect your chances.

“So the calculation is would you do better by calling an early general election than you would by waiting.

“And I think all of the things on the horizon are being kind of kicked into the long grass over recent months and are still waiting there. And that’s why I think everything is pointing towards an early general election.”

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