Johnson ‘eyes decade in power’ after local elections…

“Boris Johnson is preparing for a decade-long premiership after a series of historic victories in Labour’s former heartlands. The prime minister said yesterday that he would embark on a “massive project” of levelling up the country as he sought to cement the Conservatives’ electoral success. He is expected to make a keynote speech in the coming weeks. Cabinet ministers said they believed that there had been a permanent change in the nation’s political identity and suggested that Johnson could outlast Margaret Thatcher, who was in Downing Street for 11 years. They said that the Conservative Party must press home its electoral advantage by winning the “culture wars” and continuing to challenge “woke” views in the years to come.” – The Times

  • Ministers say he could rule longer than Thatcher’s 11 years – Daily Mail
  • Tories seize Hartlepool and dominate Labour in England – The Sun
  • Party gains Northumberland, Dudley and Nottinghamshire – Daily Mail
  • Prime Minister ‘up for hat-trick’ as Labour’s red wall crumbles – The Times
  • Conservatives gain 161 seats – Daily Express
  • We’re the true Workers’ Party, say Tories – Daily Mail
  • Cummings lashes out in all directions – Daily Telegraph

>Today: ToryDiary: Houchen. He’s patriotic. Even more importantly – he delivers.


…as he rules out another Scottish independence referendum

“Boris Johnson has made clear he would reject calls for a second Scottish independence referendum if Nicola Sturgeon secured an SNP majority at Holyrood. In an interview with The Telegraph, the Prime Minister said: “I think a referendum in the current context is irresponsible and reckless.” The comments set up a political battle over the future of the UK that will loom large for the rest of the year. Ms Sturgeon, the SNP leader, who is set to be returned as Scottish First Minister in the Holyrood elections, said on Friday that she was prepared to push for a second referendum “when the time is right”. It followed Labour suffering a historic by-election defeat in Hartlepool, with a Tory MP elected in the town for the first time since 1964.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Sturgeon plays down SNP prospects of a majority after pro-UK tactical voting – The Guardian
  • Downing Street celebrations are muted as Johnson awaits outcome of Scottish polls – FT
  • Surge in turnout could put pressure on the Prime Minister… – Daily Telegraph
  • …but having to govern with an SNP/Green coalition would weaken Sturgeon’s position – Daily Mail


  • Scottish Parliament spent more than £40,000 on legal advice during Salmond scandal – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Live Blog: Scottish and Welsh election results. ‘I wasn’t part of the planners’ – Davidson disowns the Scottish Conservatives’ campaign

Charles Moore: For the first time, I suspect that reports of Labour’s death are not exaggerated

“The clue to Labour’s strength lay in its name. “Labour” meant not only the parliamentary party, but also the other arm of the “Labour movement” – the trade unions. In theory, this made Labour the natural majority in the 20th century. It sought to represent the enfranchised collectivity of the working class in an era when most people were working-class, making them richer through the fruits of their labour. Labour felt like the future. Its high point was the general election victory of 1945. As late as 1997, the Labour movement remained a bedrock upon which Tony Blair cleverly built modern, middle-class extensions, as a conservatory improves the value of a late-Victorian terraced house. Nearly 25 years later comes the Hartlepool by-election, following the logic of the 2016 Brexit referendum and the Conservative election landslide of 2019. In its wake, each wing of Labour blames the other. Surely the grim truth for the party is that both are at fault.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Walpole, Disraeli, Churchill, Thatcher… now Boris enters the pantheon – Dominic Sandbrook, Daily Mail
  • Hartlepool is a proud town that became tired of being told it was left behind – Chris Lloyd, The Times


  • Voters have been forgiving this time, but it won’t last – Henry Mance, FT
  • The populist Tory party has a lie at its heart – Matthew Parris, The Times


  • Historic day Johnson put Labour to the sword – Daily Mail
  • He has reinvented the Tories in his own image – FT

>Today: David Gauke’s column: These results show the Conservatives set for success in the 2020s – unless their opponents can adapt

Starmer ‘plans move out of London’ after shock results…

“Keir Starmer is said to be planning a move out of London as a senior frontbencher quit with a withering attack on the ‘London-based bourgeoisie’ who have taken over the party ‘with the support of brigades of woke social media warriors’. Khalid Mahmood, the MP for Birmingham Perry Barr, quit as a shadow defence minister in the wake of Labour’s disastrous election meltdown that saw it surrender Hartlepool to the Conservatives. Mr Starmer insisted he ‘takes responsibility’ and is ‘bitterly disappointed’, as sources told the Guardian he was planning to move the party from the capital.  A clearly rattled Labour leader said the party had been ‘talking to ourselves’ rather than voters – insisting he is ready to do ‘whatever it takes’ to ‘fix’ the problems.” – Daily Mail

  • He denies Labour is facing an existential crisis – The Times
  • Worst result since Second World War shows ‘Red Wall’ has further to crumble – Daily Telegraph
  • ‘There’s beer mats with more personality than Starmer’ – The Times


  • Smaller parties and Tories make London mayor race a tight call for Khan – The Times
  • …who was ‘tied with Bailey’ as Labour disaster could get worse – The Sun

…as he’s warned of prospect of leadership challenge over summer…

“Sir Keir Starmer is likely to face a leadership challenge in the summer after Labour’s resounding defeat in the parliamentary by-election in Hartlepool raised questions about his strategy, leftwing MPs warned on Friday. The leader of Britain’s main opposition party, who has sought to return Labour to the centre ground of UK politics, is coming under pressure to tack to the left after the Tories also retained the Tees Valley mayoralty. Hartlepool and Tees Valley are in north-east England, former Labour heartlands where Boris Johnson made significant inroads at the 2019 general election. Leftwing Labour MPs said there would be an attempt to wrest control from Starmer within months should he refuse to adopt a more radical policy programme — and if he loses another by-election expected soon in Batley and Spen in West Yorkshire.” – FT

  • Frontbencher quits with broadside at leader – Daily Telegraph
  • Starmer faces fury of Labour after 13-month march to election defeat – The Times


  • Liverpool chooses UK’s first directly elected black female mayor – The Guardian

…but Welsh Labour defies adverse tide to retain dominance in Cardiff

“The Labour party maintained its grip on the Welsh parliament as it hit an election record by capturing 30 of the 60 seats in the Senedd. The centre-left party, which has held power in Cardiff since devolution took effect in 1999, put in a stronger performance in Wales than in England. Labour lost a seat to the Conservatives in the Senedd but held on to several other Tory targets in the “Red Wall” that turned blue in the 2019 election and gained one seat from Plaid Cymru. Labour had ruled with the support of the centrist Liberal Democrats, but the party lost its only seat to the Conservatives… The Conservatives, who went into the election with 11 seats, look set to become the second-biggest party, surpassing Plaid, which had 12. Leanne Wood, Plaid’s former leader, lost her Rhondda seat in a swing of 19 per cent to Labour.” – FT

  • Labour resists Conservative charge – The Times

Daniel Finkelstein: Labour’s red wall loss is about more than Brexit

“After the defeat of 2019, Labour started debating whether it had lost its so-called red wall seats in the north and Midlands because of Corbyn or because of Brexit. The Hartlepool result shows it was about more than either of those things. For at least 15 years, Labour has been losing working-class support to the Conservatives, while attracting younger urban support. Brexit and Corbyn are as much symptoms of this change as they are causes of it. And the problem for Labour is that their new vote isn’t large enough to replace the old one. The Conservatives have simply built a larger demographic coalition and Labour can’t make up its mind whether to abandon the places it has lost and attack the Tories in the south, or try to rebuild the red wall.” – The Times

  • If it is to ever win another election, Labour needs nothing less than refounding – Neal Lawson, The Guardian
  • Party was in our blood and bone, but now it’s left our hearts – Ruth Sunderland, Daily Mail
  • For Labour, purity matters more than votes – Janice Turner, The Times
  • To win back working people, Labour should learn from Biden – Jonathan Freedland, The Guardian
  • Why Hartlepool will spark a civil war – Guy Pierce, Daily Mail

Lib Dems and Greens enjoy resurgence

“The Liberal Democrats and Greens put in a strong performance last night as they picked up a string of Labour and Conservative council seats. The Lib Dems made gains across the country, including in at least one Brexit stronghold. This will be welcome news to leader Sir Ed Davey after the party’s poor performance in the last general election, when then leader Jo Swinson lost her seat. The smaller parties were forecast to take more seats today. The Lib Dems deprived the Tories of overall control of Cambridgeshire County Council, winning five seats. In Brexit-voting Sunderland, they took four from Labour, while in Sheffield they and the Greens helped deprive Labour of overall control.” – Daily Mail

Portugal only major tourist destination on Government’s ‘green list’

“Portugal is the only major holiday destination to make the “green” list for quarantine-free travel, with many of the other 11 countries still banning tourists or imposing tough restrictions. The move foreshadows a surge in bookings for holidays to Portugal, which has already seen flights double in price in anticipation of its inclusion on the green list. The limited list also provoked an angry reaction from travel industry leaders, who demanded the Government indicate which countries could be included in the future reviews of the list, due every three weeks. The only other potential mainstream “holiday” destinations that made the “green” list are Iceland, Gibraltar and Israel, which have either limited capacity for tourists or place tough conditions for visitors.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Britons are less than impressed with prospect of holidays to the Falklands – Daily Mail

Ministers launch ‘pet detective squad’ to tackle the rise in dog and cat thefts

“Ministers  have launched a crack team of ‘Pet Detectives’ after thefts of dogs and cats soared over the last year. Black market prices for family pets has soared during the lockdowns, fuelled by demand and exploited by organised mobsters. Environment minister George Eustice, Home Secretary Priti Patel and Justice Sec Robert Buckland – dubbed the “Chief Pet Detective” by telly presenter Holly Willoughby this week have launched the Pet Theft Taskforce to curb the rising crime. It is estimated thefts have risen by 250 per cent, with criminal gangs involved. According to DogsTrust, the price for five of the UK’s most sought after breeds grew significantly during the first lockdown with some soaring by 89 per cent.” – The Sun

  • Truss eyes new mammoth trade deal in South East Asia – Daily Express
  • Wallace brands Challenger 3 ‘most lethal tank in NATO’ – The Sun

Greensill inquiry: Cameron and founder to give evidence to MPs

“David Cameron and Lex Greensill, founder of the now-collapsed finance firm for which Cameron was an adviser, are both to give evidence before MPs next week, it has been announced. The Treasury committee, which has launched an inquiry into lessons that can be learned from the firm’s demise and its role working with government, is to hear from Cameron on Thursday afternoon, it said. This will be preceded, on Tuesday afternoon, by questions to Greensill, whose company is at the centre of a controversy of lobbying by Cameron over access to government Covid loans. It will be the first time that either the former prime minister or Greensill has spoken publicly about the firm and its collapse since information emerged in March about the lobbying.” – The Guardian

  • Snubbed by all, how ex-Prime Minister’s China fund cracked – The Times


  • Johnson and Symonds rent out Camberwell townhouse to raise cash – The Times

News in Brief:

  • Labour isn’t working – Paul Embery, UnHerd
  • There’s one simple lesson from this mixed bag of election results – Henry Hill, CapX
  • A bafflingly complex set of local elections with a singularly simple result – Tom Clark, Prospect
  • Labour are in bigger trouble than you realise – Jonn Elledge, The Big Issue
  • Baillie victory deals blow to SNP majority hopes – Stephen Daisley, The Spectator
  • Is Labour dead? – Ian Birrell, UnHerd