UK general election polls:

Boris Johnson reacts to 'mixed' local election results

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The Conservatives have endured what has been described by Prime Minister Boris Johnson as a “tough night” in the local council elections in England – and the count isn’t over yet. The Tories have seen some significant losses to Labour so far, but these gains still may not indicate Labour are “on course for winning a general election majority”, elections expert professor John Curtice has said.

Labour has seen some historic victories in London so far, bagging key London Tory strongholds including Westminster, Barnet, and Tory ‘jewel’ Wandsworth.

The loss of key councils in London, where the Conservatives were almost wiped out, pose increasing pressure on Mr Johnson, who faces the possibility of more police fines over his attendance at other lockdown-breaking gatherings.

The breaking of these lockdown rules has been largely attributed to Tory seat losses, as a Tory councillor has said “trust in Boris Johnson has completely dissipated”.

However, with indications that Tory support still held in areas of central and northern England that backed Brexit in 2016, some Conservatives said Mr Johnson’s critics were unlikely to have the numbers to trigger a coup, for now.

Elections expert Professor John Curtice said the Tories looked on track to lose between 200 and 300 seats amid anger over Partygate, but Labour is struggling in its former Red Wall seats.

He said it was not a performance “that indicated a party that is on course for winning a general election with a majority” and did not even suggest Labour would necessarily be the largest party in the next Parliament.

Professor Curtice said: “Outside of London, as compared to 2018 when these seats were last contested, it looks like their seats are down slightly.

“And for a party that is trying to regain ground in the so-called Red Wall seats in the Midlands and north of England, this wasn’t quite the progress they wanted.

“There is still a very substantial legacy of the impact of Brexit on both the character of the Conservative and Labour supporters.

“The Conservatives are still much stronger in Leave areas, and therefore Labour is still struggling to make more progress there.”

A Tory source told Politico: “Outside London, this is now looking like a bad night for Labour across the rest of the country.

“They have gone backwards in places like Sunderland, Tyneside, Hartlepool, Nuneaton, Sandwell and Amber Valley, showing they are seriously underperforming in former Labour heartlands which they need to regain.”

Although, this doesn’t carry the general consensus as Conservative councillors have proclaimed the ‘historic’ Labour victories “do not bode well” for the Tories ahead of the next general election.

Barnet Conservative leader Daniel Thomas said: “I think a lot of Conservatives haven’t voted this time, I think they feel alienated from No 10 and that they are, I don’t know, they’ve been disappointed with Boris Johnson and so not voting and I think that’s made a difference as well.’

“I think this is a warning shot from Conservative supporters.”

However, Oliver Dowden, the chairman of the Conservatives, said although the party “had some difficult results” after weeks of what he described as “challenging headlines”, Labour is still not on course to win the next general election.

Mr Dowden said: “Labour are certainly not on the path to power and I believe that Boris Johnson does have the leadership skills, in particular, the energy and the dynamism that we need during this difficult period of time.”

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Amongst the ongoing battle between Labour and the Tories, some “surprising” feats have taken shape with new Liberal Democrats and Green Party seat wins.

Professor Curtice said: “In terms of share of the vote, the progress is relatively modest, but they might just be hoping they are finally demonstrating some recovery from the 2015 general election.”

The Lib Dems have added more than 50 councillors to their tally and have won the leadership of Kingston-Upon-Hull from Labour.

The Lib Dems have also gained majority seats in West Oxfordshire, as well as major inroads against the Conservatives in Stockport.

The Green party has racked up over 20 seats, a success professor Curtice said was “enough to more than double the party’s representation on the councils that have declared so far.”

Although it’s still hard to tell what direction polls will swing, the results show a stark decline in Conservative support.

According to Statista, in April 2022, 39 percent of British adults taking part in their online survey said they intended to vote for Labour if an election were to take place today, whereas 33 percent intended to vote for the Conservatives.

Another poll aggregated by Politico reveals Labour to again, win a higher proportion of votes at 40 percent, with the Tories falling short at 34 percent.

Professor Curtis said: “The question the [Tory] party now has to address is how it thinks it can best regain the ground it has lost before the next general election, a contest which now may be less than two years away.”

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