By Pierre Briançon
The U.K.’s ruling Conservative Party won several local and one crucial parliamentary election this week, illustrating voters’ growing support for Prime Minister Boris Johnson as the economy bounces back sharply after a successful COVID-19 vaccination campaign.
The Conservative candidate was comfortably elected to Parliament in the northeast England constituency of Hartlepool, which had been held continuously by the Labour Party since the creation of the seat in 1974.
The Tories also won several town council elections, as voters seemed to shrug off a string of allegations that raised doubts about Johnson’s personal finances, notably on the funding of his official apartment’s refurbishment.
Almost 70% of Hartlepool voters had backed Brexit in the 2016 referendum.
The U.K. prime minister said after the vote that he saw it as a mandate to “continue delivering,” notably continuing the vaccination campaign and “making sure that we go from jab to jab, to jab to jobs, jobs, jobs.”
The Bank of England on Thursday revised upward its growth prospect for the economy this year, to 7.25% compared with its 5% forecast three months ago.
The outlook: The vote immediately prompted some major soul-searching in the Labour Party, with several high-profile members expressing doubt about leader Keir Starmer’s leadership capabilities, and fearing that the party might be headed to its fifth consecutive defeat in the next national elections, which are scheduled to be held in three years’ time.
From the archives (April 2021): U.K. watchdog deepens probe into Boris Johnson’s pricey apartment face-lift