Local elections 2022: Votes are a 'warning shot' for Boris Johnson say local Conservative leaders

Boris Johnson bears “a lot of the responsibility” for Conservative losses at the local elections, one of his local leaders has said.

Another has described the losses across London and setbacks across England as a “warning shot” that “does not bode well” for a general election.

Sir Keir Starmer’s party further strengthened its grip on the capital, taking the totemic Tory authority in Wandsworth, winning Westminster for the first time since its creation in 1964 and clinching victory in Barnet.

Sign up to our Politics newsletter

As dozens of Tory councillors lost their seats against a backdrop of the row about lockdown-busting parties in No 10 and the cost-of-living crisis, local Conservative leaders criticised the Prime Minister.

Votes being counted in Peterborough

Former Conservative leader of Carlisle City Council John Mallinson said the Prime Minister “bears a lot of the responsibility” for the “very poor” results.

He was asked by the BBC this morning how the party could hold up at a national vote, and added: “I think if things remain the same it will, I think we’ll pay for it”.

He said Boris Johnson would be a “poor option” to lead the Conservatives into the next general election.

“People seemed preoccupied with national issues, the cost-of-living crisis is weighing very heavily on people’s minds,” he added.

“And I have to say that issues like partygate made it increasingly difficult to focus people’s minds on local issues”.

Taking control of the three additional councils in London will probably be touted as Labour’s biggest victory at this round of elections.

Barnet was among those where the Tories lost out, and the Conservative leader there described the results as a “warning shot”.

Daniel Thomas said: “Clearly if Labour are to get a majority in Parliament they need to win Barnet. They won the council, if they win our parliamentary constituencies as well, then it doesn’t bode well for us to form a Government in future general elections.”

Ravi Govindia, leader of the Wandsworth Tories, said: “Let’s not be coy about it, of course national issues were part of the dilemma people were facing.”

After full results were declared from 71 councils, the Tories had lost control of six authorities and suffered a net loss of 132 councillors, Labour had a net gain of four councils and 91 seats, the Lib Dems had gained a council and 40 councillors and the Greens had put on 22 councillors.

However, Conservative figures this morning pointed to a differing picture in the results across the country, with votes outside the capital going more in their favour.

Policing minister Kit Malthouse told the BBC: “The further away you get from London, our sense is that the picture is better for us.”

Conservative Party chairman Oliver Dowden said that while the party had suffered some “difficult results” it was not the time to replace their leader.

“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,” he told Sky News.