How local elections could see Johnson ousted as Tory MPs ‘can’t leave it any longer’

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Voters in England, Scotland and Wales go to the polls on Thursday, May 5 for a bumper set of local elections. Thousands of seats are up for grabs, most of which were last contested in 2018. This means it is the first time the electorate will get their say on Boris Johnson’s administration since 2019, when the Tories came to power in a landslide win at the General Election.

This year has seen the Prime Minister embroiled in the so-called ‘Partygate’ scandal over social gatherings held in Downing Street that broke COVID-19 rules.

The Conservative leader has apologised for the parties after receiving a fine from the police for attending an event held in the Cabinet Room for his birthday.

In the wake of the controversy, Tory fears have mounted that the party will lose hundreds of council seats on May 5 as voters make their anger with the Government known – local elections have long served as a referendum of the ruling party.

Dr Nicholas Dickinson, a political expert from the University of Oxford, told that Tory MPs will feel they “can’t leave it any longer” if the party suffers a major defeat tomorrow.

Dr Dickinson was asked how long Mr Johnson will hold on as Prime Minister and what might be the final push for him to go.

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He said: “Assuming that we don’t have any more revelations that move this scandal on or push it into even more serious territory, I think it is going to be the local elections in May.

“Politicians do read polls and they do care about them, but they pay much more attention to election results.

“And I think if we start to see some of the negative polling crystallise in actual losses of council seats, that will be the point really, at which I think the crunch point will come for the party.

“They will decide that the political damage is severe enough that they need to do something about it. They can’t leave it any longer.”

Tories opposed to Mr Johnson’s continued premiership are able to submit letters of no confidence in his leadership.

A total of 54 letters need to be submitted to the party’s 1922 Committee of backbenchers in order to trigger a vote of no confidence in the House of Commons.

A majority of Tory MPs – around 180 – must then vote against the Prime Minister to remove him from office.

Tory fears of a humiliating defeat on May 5 have ramped up in the wake of damning polling for the party.

The most recent research for Electoral Calculus and Find Out Now found that the Labour Party will gain more than 800 council seats in the elections.

Meanwhile, the Conservatives are tipped to haemorrhage 548, according to the survey of 1,749 adults published by The Telegraph on Monday.

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This would mark the Tories’ worst election defeat since Sir Tony Blair was Labour leader in the Nineties.

Dr Dickinson claimed that as time has gone on, Tory voters have increasingly switched to Labour.

He said: “Polling is not good for the Conservatives. I think until recently, it had been true to say that most of Labour’s lead had not been direct switching from the Conservatives to Labour.

“It has been Conservative 2019 voters saying they wouldn’t vote for anyone or don’t know who they would vote for.

“As time has gone on, there has been more direct switching to Labour.

“And there are some indications that the slide in the Conservative vote share is worse in the areas where Johnson did best in 2019 – or increased the share most in 2019.

“So, in the ‘Red Wall’ in those areas that fell from Labour to Conservative in 2019.”

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