Tory civil war brews as party splits on whether to blame Boris Johnson for local election results

Boris Johnson has borne the brunt of the blame among some Tory leaders after a disappointing round of results in the local elections

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Boris Johnson faced backlash from local Tory leaders as his party lost major London authorities to Labour and suffered setbacks across England.

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.

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.

John Mallinson, leader of Carlisle City Council hit out after Labour took control of the new Cumberland authority which will replace it.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson
Prime Minister Boris Johnson
Labour enjoyed a strong showing in the local elections
Labour enjoyed a strong showing in the local elections

He said: “I think it is not just Partygate, there is the integrity issue.

“Basically I just don’t feel people any longer have the confidence that the Prime Minister can be relied upon to tell the truth.”

In Portsmouth, where the Tories lost four seats, Simon Bosher the leader of the Conservative group said Mr Johnson should “take a good, strong look in the mirror” because “those are people that are actually bearing the brunt on the doorstep of behaviour of what’s been going on in Westminster”.

Before the final results were declared in Barnet, Tory group leader Daniel Thomas conceded defeat, saying the loss was a “warning shot” from his party’s supporters.

He 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.”

But the party appears to be split as, despite the criticism of the PM, No.10 sources are forming a united front with Cabinet ministers.

A No 10 insider said they were “very sorry and sad for good Conservatives who lost their seats” and it was “tragic to think the good people of Westminster and Wandsworth are now destined to pay higher taxes”.

They added: “But overall, across the UK the Conservatives have so far done better than expected.

“Keir Starmer is clearly not making the progress he needs to even dream of being in government and it’s hard to imagine any other Conservative leader doing better than this.”

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

He added: “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."