Carlisle City Council Leader lashes out at Prime Minister after Cumberland Council defeat

John Mallinson said Boris Johnson would be a "poor option" to lead the Conservatives into the next general election. Credit: PA

A Cumbria council leader says the Prime Minister "bears a lot of the responsibility" for the "very poor" results in local elections.

Dozens of Tory councillors lost their seats overnight, against a backdrop of the row about lockdown-busting parties in No 10 and the cost-of-living crisis.

Among those criticising the Prime Minister is John Mallinson, Leader of Carlisle City Council.

Reacting to an emphatic defeat to Labour in elections for the new Cumberland Council, he told the BBC: "I don't think any one person is responsible for everything, but he [Boris] does seem to be attracting a lot of unrest and ill feeling at the moment".

Cumberland Council is one of two new unitary authorities in Cumbria, that will replace existing County and District councils including Carlisle, Allerdale and Copeland.

When asked if that feeling of 'unrest' will carry on until the next general election, Cllr Mallinson said: "I think if things remain the same it will, I think we'll pay for it".

He added that Boris Johnson would be a "poor option" to lead the Conservatives into the next general election.

John Mallinson went on to say that controversy surrounding issues such as 'partygate' at Westminster had seemingly had a negative knock-on effect for local campaigns:

"People seemed preoccupied with national issues, the cost-of-living crisis is weighing very heavily on people's minds, and I have to say that issues like partygate made it increasingly difficult to focus people's minds on local issues".

"I think it is not just partygate, there is the integrity issue. Basically I just don't feel people any longer have the confidence that the Prime Minister can be relied upon to tell the truth."

A No 10 insider told the PA news agency they were "very sorry and sad for good Conservatives who lost their seats.

"But overall, across the UK the Conservatives have so far done better than expected," the source insisted. "Keir Starmer is clearly not making the progress he needs to even dream of being in government and it's hard to imagine any other Conservative leader doing better than this."

Conservative Party chairman Oliver Dowden said that while the party had suffered some "difficult results" it was not the time to replace their leader.

"Labour are certainly not on the path to power and I believe that Boris Johnson does have the leadership skills, in particular the energy and the dynamism that we need during this difficult period of time."