London’s mayor Johnson saves Tories from a humiliating defeat in council elections
Boris Johnson dodged a humiliating nationwide defeat for Prime Minister David Cameron by winning London in local elections that saw voters angry at Britain's economic woes flock to opposition Labour and a right-wing anti-European fringe party.
Maverick mayor Johnson's silver-lining win in London was the only good news for Cameron whom local media said had been given a bloody nose by voters upset at spending cuts and Britain's return to recession.
Even Johnson, who as one of the most popular politicians in Cameron's own party is tipped as a possible future prime minister, saw his majority slashed, claiming victory only after a lengthy count that had put him head to head with his rival, Labour candidate Ken Livingstone.
I will continue to fight for a good deal for Londoners, a good deal from the government that will help us deliver prosperity for everybody in this city, Johnson, famous for his ruffled fair hair, said after the vote count at London's City Hall, a rounded glass building on the Thames.
Johnson failed to mention the wider Conservative defeat, but his challenger, Livingstone, said that the victory could put Johnson on course to one day lead the Conservative party.
With results declared in all 181 councils being contested across the country, Labour had gained 823 new councillors while the Conservatives had lost 405 and their Liberal Democrat coalition partners were down by 336.
After preaching economic prudence, Cameron's coalition government was damaged by a return to recession and weeks of blunders that made ministers appear out of touch with voters struggling with high unemployment, price rises and low wages.
Cameron apologised to Conservative candidates who lost their jobs, blaming the defeat on the tough decisions he had been forced to make to reduce Britain's debt mountain and mend the 2.5 trillion dollars economy.
There aren't easy answers, said Cameron, whose party lost seats to Labour in the rural constituency he represents in parliament.