Ministers suggest there has been a permanent shift in the UK’s political identity (Picture: Reuters/PA)Boris Johnson could rule for longer than Margaret Thatcher after a series of election victories in former Labour strongholds, ministers have predicted.
Yesterday saw the Tories win the Hartlepool by-election, taking a town that had been red for 57 years by nearly 7,000 votes.
Conservative Ben Houchen was re-elected mayor of Tees Valley with just under 73% of the vote, compared to 51% in 2017.
The Tories also took control of local authorities in Northumberland, Harlow, Nuneaton and Dudley and won seats in Durham and Sunderland.
Cabinet ministers say there has been permanent shift in Britain’s political identity and say Johnson could outlast Thatcher’s 11 years in Downing Street, according to the Times.
On Tuesday the PM is expected to present a new legislative programme of 25 bills and will soon make a speech on ‘levelling up’ the nation.
One cabinet minister said: ‘It seems to me to be more than just a short-term rejection of Labour. It looks fairly permanent.’
The Tories have made more gains in Labour’s former ‘red wall’ (Picture: PA)Another added: ‘Labour haven’t represented working-class patriotic voters for a while. They’re too woke, too Islington metropolitan elite.
‘They’re becoming a London party. Boris is a unique politician. If he wants he could do what Thatcher did and then some.’
Analysis by the Daily Mail shows the the Tories could snatch a further 36 seats from Labour where the party’s lead over the Conservatives was smaller in 2019 than the number who voted for the Brexit Party.
Admitting that results had been ‘bitterly disappointing’, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: ‘I take full responsibility for the results— and I will take full responsibility for fixing this.’
After losing Hartlepool, which had been a Labour constituency since it was created in 1974, Sir Keir said his party ‘has to rise to the challenge of reconnecting with working people.’
He added: ‘We were set up to represent working people, we need to reconnect, rebuild that trust,’ he said.
‘That means learning the lessons of the results that are in so far and putting a much stronger and bolder case to the country.’
Labour did exceed expectations in Wales, as it is set to win half of the 60 seats in the Welsh Parliament.
First Minister Mark Drakeford said he would do ‘whatever I can’ to make sure Wales has a ‘stable and progressive’ government.
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