Digital Desk: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Conservative Party lost control of historic strongholds in London and suffered losses elsewhere in local elections, early results on Friday showed, as voters punished his government over a string of scandals.
Johnson's party was defeated in Wandsworth, a low-tax Conservative stronghold since 1978, part of a trend in the British capital where voters used the elections to vent their frustrations over a rising cost of living and fines imposed on the prime minister for violating his own COVID-19 lockdown rules.
The Conservatives lost control of the London borough of Barnet, which they had held since 1964 in all but two elections. Labour also believes it has won the Westminster council for the first time, a district that houses the majority of government institutions.
"This is a warning shot from Conservative voters," Barnet Conservative leader Daniel Thomas stated.
The aggregate result, which will be released later on Friday, will provide the most important snapshot of public sentiment since Johnson secured the Conservative Party's largest majority in over 30 years in the 2019 general election.
Johnson is facing his first election since becoming the first British politician in living memory to break the law while in office. He was punished last month for attending a birthday party in his office in 2020, in violation of social distancing restrictions in force at the time to prevent the spread of COVID.
According to preliminary statistics, the Conservative Party has lost 92 council seats. The main opposition Labour Party won 23 seats, while the Liberal Democrats won 42.
The loss of crucial London councils, where the Conservatives were nearly wiped out, will add to the pressure on Johnson, who has been fighting for his political life for months and faces the prospect of more police fines for his presence at other lockdown-breaking meetings.
Nearly 7,000 council seats will be decided in Thursday's elections, including all of those in London, Scotland, and Wales, as well as a third of those in the rest of England.
In the 2019 general election, Johnson defied conventional British politics by winning and vowing to raise living standards in former industrial areas of central and northern England.
However, the loss of Wandsworth, Barnet, and possibly Westminster symbolises how Johnson, who served as mayor of London for two terms, has lost his appeal in the city. His support for Brexit has cost him support in London, where the majority of voters in the 2016 Brexit referendum voted to remain in the European Union.