Britons cast their votes in local elections
Voters in Britain went to the polls in local government elections on Thursday where they are expected to punish Prime Minister Boris Johnson over a cost-of-living crisis and fines for breaking his own Covid-19 lockdown rules.
The elections are seen as a test of support for Boris, who became the first British leader in living memory to have broken the law while in office when he was fined last month for attending a birthday gathering in his office in 2020.
A sharp rise in global energy prices that has pushed up consumers' gas and electricity bills is now also feeding through to the cost of goods in shops, putting more pressure on household budgets.
A poor set of results will increase pressure on Boris, who has been under pressure for months and faces three investigations and the possibility of more police fines over his attendance at other lockdown-breaking gatherings.
“These elections are without doubt the biggest test of Boris Johnson since the 2019 general election and come after what has been a very difficult time for him and his government,” said Tony Travers, a professor at the London School of Economics.
But some lawmakers among Boris’s governing Conservatives say that while the party may perform badly in some of its traditional supportive regions in southeast England, critics may not have the numbers to trigger a coup against the prime minister.
“I don’t think they have the numbers. It’s not wise to move until you do have the numbers,” one Conservative former minister said on condition of anonymity, referring to several unsuccessful attempts to oust Boris’s predecessor Theresa May.
Votes will decide almost 7,000 council seats across the UK, determining the make-up of 140 local government authorities, which are responsible for the day-to-day provision of public services.
On Thursday morning Boris went to a polling station at Methodist Central Hall a short walk from his Downing Street residence to cast his vote. The results will not directly affect his practical ability to govern because the vote does not cause seats in parliament to change hands.