The mounting pressure on Boris Johnson in the wake of the Conservative party’s heavy local election losses provides the lead for several papers – although some titles see Keir Starmer’s alleged lockdown breach as the bigger story.
The Guardian splash headline reads “Johnson blamed for Tory election woes” as the prime minister suffers increased scrutiny about his suitability as leader after seeing almost 400 of his councillors ousted from their seats.
The paper says the scale of the backlash aginst Johnson over the Partygate scandal was tempered by Labour’s failure to bounce back more strongly in northern England, but columnist Jonathan Freedland nevertheless says that the party is much better shape to challenge the recent Tory hegemony.
The Financial Times has a similar splash headline in which it says “Johnson faces renewed threat as Tories hit hard in local elections” above a picture of the prime minister appearing to scratch his head.
The Times reports that “Tories punished in south”, contrasting the governing party’s stronger performance in north compared with the devastating defeats suffered in London where it lost the strongholds of Wandsworth, Westminster and Barnet.
The Express identifies this point as well and makes a little bit more of it, claiming in its splash head that “Bullish Boris back on track as ‘red wall’ keeps faith”.
The Yorkshire Post is more downbeat and points out in its main story that the Tories only just scraped home in the new unitary authority in North Yorkshire: “Tory majority slashed by voting shift in heartlands”.
For the Telegraph the most interesting line from the elections is what happened in Northern Ireland where the nationalists are growing in strength. “Victory for Sinn Fein stokes united Ireland fears”, the paper says it its main headline.
The Sun focuses on the news that Durham police are investigating claims that Labour leader Keir Starmer broke lockdown rules by having a beer and takeaway curry with staff while on the campaign trail in April last year. “Are you going to korma quietly, Sir?”.
The Mail says “Now It’s Slippery Starmer In Crisis”.
North of the border, the Scotsman says that things are looking bad for the Scottish Tory leader after they slipped into third place behind Labour in the race to catch the SNP. “Ross under pressure as Tories battered at polls”, it says.
The Herald reports that “Tories are overtaken by Labour in Scotland”.
In other news, the Mirror splashes on the news that the Sussexes won’t be on the royal balcony during the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations this summer. Neither will Prince Andrew. “Snubbed” the splash headline reads.