Westminster council falls to Labour in local elections

Opposition wins the home of Mayfair, the Ritz and David Cameron from Conservatives, presenting danger for Boris Johnson's leadership

Labour Party leader Keir Starmer speaks to supporters in Barnet, London, Friday May 6, 2022, after the party clinched victory in Barnet in local government elections.  People in Britain voted Thursday in local elections that will decide the makeup of local authorities across the country — and possibly the fate of embattled Prime Minister Boris Johnson.  (Jonathan Brady / PA via AP)
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The Conservatives have lost the prestigious borough of Westminster for the first time, marking a significant decline in their London support.

It is a council area that is home to the wealth of the Ritz Hotel, Mayfair and Parliament itself and a borough that the Tories have held since its creation in 1964. It even holds the home of David Cameron, the former Conservative prime minister.

But the wave of support for Labour in the local elections that has swept through the capital for a decade has now reached the Westminster housing estates and homes, carrying with it other Tory strongholds of Wandsworth and Barnet.

In the fallout from the Partygate scandal, in which the Prime Minister Boris Johnson was fined for attending an illegal lockdown party in Downing Street, the Conservatives had been quietly suggesting that Westminster would be lost.

But the Labour victory across London — along with gains elsewhere for the party and the Liberal Democrats — could spell a moment of danger for Mr Johnson.

A former cabinet minister has already given a warning that the poor showing in Britain’s local elections could provide the “tinder” to ignite a move against Mr Johnson’s leadership.

When Parliament returns on Tuesday, there may well be more letters submitted by Conservative MPs that could trigger a vote of no confidence.

So far, cabinet ministers are rallying around the prime minister, perhaps fearful that their posts could be in jeopardy if he decides on a reshuffle.

But Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer should not get too excited by the London results, said Sir John Curtice, professor of politics at the University of Strathclyde.

“Labour can’t win Westminster Parliament by simply winning Westminster council,” the professor told the BBC on Friday.

Meanwhile, Adam Hug, the incoming leader of the Westminster authority, has promised a “root-and-branch revolution of everything the council does”.

Updated: May 06, 2022, 12:46 PM