Tories never actually won it Boris facing election wipeout in very exceptional seat

Voters slate Boris Johnson ahead of local elections

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Residents from Newcastle-under-Lyme in Staffordshire and those from surrounding villages will vote in their borough council elections on Thursday, April 5, to decide who they want to represent them across 21 wards. The borough has 44 councillors representing these wards, with the number of seats for each one ranging from one to two – and every single seat is now up for grabs. The majority are Conservative and Labour candidates, with eight campaigning for the Liberal Democrats and two for the Green Party.

In December 2017 Newcastle-under-Lyme, traditionally a Labour stronghold, was left under no overall control but last November, the Conservatives were able to gain control when independents defected to the party.

Sir John Curtice warned Newcastle-under-Lyme is the only Red Wall council the Tories are defending that they are at risk of losing.

He described it as an “exceptional case”, highlighting the Conservatives never actually won it during the last local elections after it was left under no outright control.

The polling expert told “The only Red Wall council that I am aware of that the Tories are defending that could potentially be lost is Newcastle-under-Lyme.

“That is a very exceptional case as it is unusual for it to have a whole council election and secondly, the only reason the Tories are in control of the council is because independents defected to the party in autumn 2021.

“The Tories never actually won it at an election.”

Mr Johnson could face a huge battle to hold onto the hotly contested seat, with some local residents still clearly furious over his involvement in the Partygate controversy.

During local election campaigning, Labour councillor David Grocott claimed to have seen widespread anger that senior Government officials were partying while the public were obeying strict rules, which meant some could not say farewell to loved ones dying in hospital.

Mr Grocott, who was unable to see his father in hospital before he died from COVID-19 in 2020, said: “Everybody is allowed to make mistakes, we are all human, but I think the hard thing is he has not broken the rules one time, but multiple times.”

One voter named John Jones, who backed the Conservatives at the 2019 general election, now regrets his decision after the Prime Minister broke his own Covid lockdown rules.

The 75-year-old retired hospital supplies manager is adamant he won’t vote for the Tories again until Mr Johnson has gone.

He said in Newcastle-under-Lyme: “I am absolutely disgusted at the way he has behaved.

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“I have had enough of watching him act like a clown. You only have to look at his haircut and the way he dresses to realise that he is not taking this job seriously.”

At the end of January, Newcastle-under-Lyme MP Aaron Bell joined a growing list of furious Conservatives expressing their fury at the Prime Minister over Partygate.

He asked Mr Johnson in Parliament if he thought he was “a fool” for having followed strict lockdown rules for his grandmother’s funeral.

Mr Bell later submitted a letter of no confidence in the Prime Minister.

The MP wrote in a statement on Twitter: “As someone who has backed Brexit and backed Boris Johnson for the leadership in 2019, I am profoundly disappointed that it has come to this.

“The Government that the Prime Minister has led has delivered some huge successes, including the vaccine rollout and nearly £35million for Newcastle-under-Lyme to level up.

“However, the breach of trust that the events in Number 10 Downing Street represent, and the manner in which they have been handled, makes his position untenable.”

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