London, May 8: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson was enjoying an election bounce on Saturday as many of the local and by-election results went in favour of his ruling Conservative Party.
In what is seen as a result in support of the government's coronavirus vaccination programme as well as the handling of Brexit, the Opposition Labour Party faced a crushing by-election defeat in a traditional stronghold of Hartlepool in north-east England, which the party had held for many decades. The Johnson-led Conservatives secured key victories over Labour as they took control of a number of councils in the West Midlands. The Tories have hailed it as a continuation of the crushing Labour defeats in the 2019 general election.
What happened in 2019 was that people mandated us to get Brexit done and to begin the process of uniting and levelling up. I think what's happened now is they can see we did get Brexit done and to a certain extent they can see we delivered on that, said Johnson, on a visit to Hartlepool to congratulate the new Conservative parliamentarian Jill Mortimer.
"I think what people want us to do now is get on with delivering on everything else. And so, number one is continuing the vaccine rollout making sure we go from jabs, jabs, jabs to jobs, jobs, jobs. Make sure we have a strong economic recovery. But then get on with a massive project for this country and it is a very ambitious thing, he said.
"Every government has tried it to some extent but I don't think any government has tried it as wholeheartedly as this government is trying. And that is uniting and levelling up," he added. The Hartlepool vote and this week's local elections, for which the results are continuing to be counted, were Labour leader Keir Starmer's first major electoral test after just over a year as Labour leader. The general picture has been dismal, focussing scrutiny on his performance over the last 12 months.
I take full responsibility for the results, and I will take full responsibility for fixing things, Starmer said. Meanwhile, the results from the devolved Scottish Parliament remain close but in favour of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon's pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP). While a majority may be on a knife-edge, an SNP win is expected to renew demands for a fresh referendum for Scotland to be independent of the United Kingdom, something Boris Johnson has been vehemently opposed to.
The count for the elections, held on Thursday, are expected to continue pouring in over the weekend before a final tally emerges. London and many other regions of England have also voted for a mayor, the results of which should be clear by Sunday. - PTI