Prime minister Boris Johnson is facing one of the worst Tory local election results in London in more than 50 years, according to one of the party’s main polling experts.
The news come after months of allegations of sleaze, parties held by government officials against their own lockdown restrictions, and wide discontent among the Tories over Covid rules.
According to Tory peer and political analyst Lord Hayward, the May local elections in London may spark a leadership challenge, as the Conservatives could lose four of their seven councils in the capital.
Boris Johnson ‘should be very concerned’
He said Boris Johnson “should be very concerned,” the Evening Standard has reported.
He added: “With most opinion polls as they stand, Conservatives could control fewer London boroughs than they have at any point in the 50 years of the existence of these boroughs.
“If the Conservatives lose a series of boroughs in London it is likely they would also lose a number of local authorities outside and under those circumstances, it will infuence the view of the Tory party at both voluntary and MP level as to whether they should continue with Boris as leader.”
According to Robert Hayward, Wandsworth will be the borough of most interest in the 5 May London elections, because despite being held by the Tories since 1978, it is “almost certain” going to be won by Labour.
Hayward warned Westminster, another London borough important for the Tories, may also be taken away by Labour.
He added the psychological blow of the two losses would be “quite substantial” and that the Tories were also “facing serious challenges” in Barnet and “possibly” Hillingdon.
Warning that the Tories may bounce back
The life peer predicted general election results in 1992 and 2015, as well as the Leave campaign’s win in the 2016 EU referendum.
His election predictions are based on the latest national polling figures, as well as council ward boundary changes.
Despite data looking pessimistic for the Tories, Hayward highlighted most governments are usually way behind in polls at this point in the electoral cycle, and that Johnson could win back some support he lost over the autumn of 2021 by the time the next general election is held – potentially more than two years from now.
At the time, a majority of 57 per cent of the voters thought Boris Johnson should resign from his role as prime minister, according to an Opinium poll. His ratings dropped to -35 per cent, down 14 points from a record low of -21 per cent two weeks ago.
Opinium’s Adam Drummond told The Observer that the Tories’ drop in polls was “devastating”, adding: “unless the Conservatives can turn these numbers around quickly, backbenchers might start asking if the party is over for the prime minister”.