Tory MP raises doubts over Boris Johnson’s future, telling him to ‘confront’ Partygate scandal

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A Conservative MP has raised doubts over Boris Johnson’s future after the party’s heavy local election losses, saying he was must “confront” the Partygate scandal.

David Simmonds said public anger about the lawbreaking in No 10 was the “clear message” from voters, after Labour grabbed three flagship London boroughs from the Tories.

“It was a pretty clear message on the doorstep. Clearly the prime minister has got some difficult questions to answer,” said the MP for Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner, on the northern edge of the capital.

“Overwhelmingly, the message that I heard on the doorsteps was people were broadly positive about the government’s policies, but they are not happy about what they have been hearing about Partygate.”

Mr Simmonds said Mr Johnson had promised to take “full responsibility for these election results”, telling BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think he needs to confront that question now.”

The call came as Gavin Barwell, chief of staff to Theresa May, called the loss of Wandsworth and Westminster councils, as well as Barnet, a set of “catastrophic results”.

“We held them during the Blair honeymoon. We held them during austerity. We held them under Theresa May. Losing them should be a wake-up call for the Conservative Party,” he tweeted.

But Oliver Dowden, the Conservative party chair, played down the talk of major setbacks, as election experts suggested Labour has gone backwards in other parts of England.

“We are mid-term and it’s quite a mixed picture because, you look elsewhere, whether that’s in Hartlepool or Nuneaton and Thurrock, we’ve actually made gains,” he argued.

“I think, if you take the whole picture of this, it really doesn’t demonstrate that Labour has the momentum to form the next government.”

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