Defiant Boris to 'launch govt reset' after 'tough night' for Tories in local elections

6 May 2022, 11:55 | Updated: 7 May 2022, 09:06

Boris Johnson has vowed to carry on after a number of Tory losses in the local elections
Boris Johnson has vowed to carry on after a number of Tory losses in the local elections. Picture: Alamy

By Sophie Barnett

A defiant Boris Johnson is believed to be planning a government 'reset' before summer after taking responsibility for the "tough night" of local elections for the Conservative party.

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A Cabinet reshuffle will be held within two months in a bid to win back support following the local election results, the Daily Mail said.

A source told the paper that it would allow Mr Johnson to "put in place the team who will take us into the next election".

He is also expected to give a speech to MPs setting out the priorities moving forward, with the cost of living crisis being at the top of the list.

"There will be a reset moment in the next couple of months," the source said. 

"The PM will set out to the public the things they can expect us to concentrate on in the run-up to the next election. You can expect to see the cost of living at the top of that."

It comes after Mr Johnson said on Friday that voters in the local election had sent a "message" to ministers to concentrate on the issues that matter to them, such as the cost of living crisis.

He admitted the Conservatives endured a "tough night" in England, after losing three London Tory strongholds; Westminster, Wandsworth and Barnet.

"The big lesson from this is that this is a message from voters that what they want us to do above all - one, two and three - is focus on the big issues that matter to them, taking the country forward, making sure we fix the post-Covid aftershock, get us all through the economic aftershocks in the way we got through Covid, fix the energy supply issues, that's where the inflationary spike is coming, and keep going with our agenda of high wage, high skill jobs," he said.

Read more: Local Elections 2022: Which councils have changed hands?

Read more: Local elections 2022 live: Westminster, Wandsworth and Barnet all fall to Labour

He added: "That is what we are focused on."

He was pressed by reporters on whether he takes responsibility for the results, to which he replied: "Of course".

The Tory leader, who has faced calls to resign, said his party received a "mix set" of results.

"We had a tough night in some parts of the country but on the other hand in other parts of the country you are still seeing Conservatives going forward and making quite remarkable gains in places that haven't voted Conservative for a long time, if ever."

Boris Johnson visits a school after the local elections in London.
Boris Johnson visits a school after the local elections in London. Picture: Alamy

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi told LBC's Andrew Castle the Conservative party "must learn from the results" and should not be "complacent".

He also said Boris Johnson is an "asset" to the Tories and is a great political leader, as some MPs called for the Prime Minister to go.

After a campaign dominated by sleaze and Partygate, the Conservatives lost the strongholds of Wandsworth and Westminster - which they have held since 1978 and 1964 respectively - to Labour.

Labour also seized Barnet, in north London, and Southampton, while West Oxfordshire and Worcester went to no overall control.

A number of results are still yet to come through - with counting expected to continue into the afternoon.

Furious local Conservative leaders have already been turning on the Prime Minister, ordering Mr Johnson to "look in the mirror" and consider whether he should stay.

The Conservative leader in Barnet, Daniel Johnson, blamed the cost of living crisis and partygate for Conservative losses, describing them as a "perfect storm".

However David Simmonds, the Tory MP for neighbouring Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner, said the issue of lockdown rule-breaking in Downing Street had kept coming up on the doorstep.

Labour leader Keir Starmer speaks to supporters outside StoneX Stadium in Barnet, London after the party clinched victory in Barnet.
Labour leader Keir Starmer speaks to supporters outside StoneX Stadium in Barnet, London after the party clinched victory in Barnet. Picture: Alamy

"He (Mr Johnson) needs to find a way to restore confidence in the Government and I think there's a number of ways he might do that."

Mr Johnson could face a leadership challenge if 53 Tory MPs - 15% of the parliamentary party - write to the chairman of the 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady, calling for vote of no confidence.

Some MPs who previously called for him to step down have since backed off amid the crisis in Ukraine, but the results may prompt a new round of soul-searching within the party.