UK PM Boris Johnson

Johnson’s Conservatives secure victory

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Millions of voters in Britain went to polling stations for local elections on Thursday (May 6) and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s ruling Conservatives scored a stunning victory against the country’s main opposition Labour Party.

Keir Starmer’s Labour Party lost a parliamentary by-election in the northern town of Hartlepool to the Conservatives for the first time in the constituency’s 57-year history. The Conservatives won 15,529 votes in Hartlepool, compared to 8,589 votes for the Labour Party.  Hartlepool was one of Britain’s strongest Brexit-supporting constituencies, with 70% to leave in 2016.

“Labour have taken people in Hartlepool for granted for too long,” the newly-elected Conservative member of Parliament Jill Mortimer said in her victory speech. “People voted for that positive change, for jobs and investment.”

Peter Mandelson, the Labour MP for Hartlepool between 1992 and 2004 said he is “gutted” by the result.“I feel a mild fury that the last 10 years of what we’ve been doing in the Labour party nationally and locally has brought us to this result,” Mandelson told BBC Radio. “That is above all the explanation of what happened today.”

Starmer, who called Friday’s local election results “bitterly disappointing”, is considering moving his party’s headquarters out of London to reflect Labour’s determination to show that it represents the whole country, party sources told the Guardian.

“It’s a very encouraging set of results so far,” Johnson told reporters.”I think that’s really because we have been focusing, as a government, on our priorities, the people’s priorities, and bouncing back from the pandemic as much as we can and getting through it,” he added.

Johnson’s government had enjoyed a popularity boost in the early part of this year but that appears to have been knocked by a recent bout of allegations concerning the prime minister being involved in “sleaze”, as well as accusations of ministerial cronyism.

With reporting by BBC, The Guardian, Al Jazeera