Voters in Britain went to the polls on Thursday in local government elections, where they are expected to punish Prime Minister Boris Johnson over a cost-of-living crisis and fines for breaking his own COVID-19 lockdown rules.
The election is seen as a test of support for Johnson, who became the first British leader in life memories to break the law when he was fined last month for attending a 2020 anniversary meeting in his office.
A sharp rise in global energy prices, which has pushed up consumers’ gas and electricity bills, is now also reflected in the cost of goods in stores, which is putting more pressure on household budgets.
A poor set of results will increase the pressure on Johnson, who has been under pressure for months and has received three investigations and the possibility of more police fines for his presence at other lockdown-breaking meetings.
“These elections are without a doubt Boris Johnson’s biggest test since the 2019 general election and come after what has been a very difficult time for him and his government,” said Tony Travers, a professor at the London School of Economics.
But some lawmakers among Johnson’s ruling conservatives say that while the party may perform poorly in some of its traditional supportive regions in south-east England, critics may not have the figures to stage a coup against the prime minister.
“I do not think they have the numbers. It is not wise to move until you have the numbers,” said one conservative former minister on condition of anonymity, referring to several failed attempts to oust Johnson’s predecessor Theresa May.
Votes will decide on nearly 7,000 council seats in the UK, and determine the composition of 140 local governments, which are responsible for the day-to-day provision of public services.
Thursday morning, Johnson, accompanied by his dog Dilyn, went to a polling station in Methodist Central Hall, a short walk from his residence in Downing Street to cast his vote.
The results will not have a direct impact on Johnson’s practical ability to govern, as the vote will not change hands in parliament.
But as Labor’s main opposition party seeks to suppress its criticism of the government’s response to the cost of living crisis, a poor performance could encourage critics in its party to question whether it is still an electoral candidate. for the next general election to be held before the end of 2024.
Added to the suffering of lenders, the Bank of England is likely to raise interest rates to its highest level in 13 years on Thursday as it fights high inflation.
An analysis by pollster Find Out Now and political advisory firm Electoral Calculus suggested that the Conservatives could lose about 800 council seats and Labor could gain control of about 20 councils.
Academics Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher say a loss of 350 Conservative seats would be bad for the Conservatives.
“Unless the results are catastrophically bad, I expect Johnson to be compromised, but he will continue to hang on,” Travers said. “Right now, he’s being helped by the lack of some clear successor.”
Two of the most important results in London will be Wandsworth and Westminster, both traditionally conservative strongholds that may now be within Labor’s reach.
Boris Johnson stands for election test over scandal over votes – SABC News
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