However, nationally, the Tories have faced heavy losses in some other areas, but look to have avoided the landslide defeat predicted by some pollsters.
Tory council candidates up and down the country were distancing themselves from Johnson and the national party in a bid to avoid being punished for mistakes made in Westminster. They have branded themselves as “local Conservatives” in their campaign literature in an effort to disassociate themselves from the scandal and more recent allegations of law-breaking and sleaze.
Leaflets in several regional cities read: “This Thursday, please don’t punish local Conservatives for the mistakes made in Westminster. We are local, and proud of where we live.”
John Mallinson, the outgoing Tory leader of Carlisle Council, said the early indications are that Johnson is leading the party toward disaster and called for his resignation.
“I just don’t feel people any longer have the confidence that the prime minister can be relied upon to tell the truth,” he told reporters.
Rebel Tory MPs plotting to oust Johnson have targeted the publication of the independent report into the scandal, expected in the coming weeks, as the moment they could renew their push to force him from office.
Johnson has attempted to tough out the scandals during the past few months, citing an internal investigation and then a police inquiry as the reasons why he could not comment or preempt their outcomes. Johnson is understood to have been present at six of the events being probed as part of the inquiry. He could still face more ends.
Although the early indication is that the local election will be damaging for the Conservatives, half of the English council seats will not begin counting votes until Friday morning. Voting is not compulsory and turned out appeared to be down on previous elections.
After results were declared from 58 councils, the Tories had lost control of three authorities and were down 79 councillors; Labor had a net gain of two councils and 34 councillors; the Lib Dems had one extra authority and 34 more seats; while the Greens had gained 19 councillors.
All local authorities in Wales and Scotland are also electing their councillors, while Stormont elections are taking place in Northern Ireland.
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