Boris Johnson sighed in relief – then the message from UK local elections took hold

…..The Lib Dems have already started campaigning in Tiverton and Honiton, where a byelection will be held next month after the resignation of Tory MP Neil Parish, who admitted looking at porn in parliament. (Extract)

The constituency includes the prosperous Devon town of Cullompton, normally safe Conservative territory. There, lifelong Conservative voter Tim Cox said he was considering voting for a different party for the first time. “It’s just the general behaviour of the Conservative party. It’s pretty shocking – it’s appalling,” he said, pausing on the high street. “Johnson lied. It’s the bare-faced lies he’s told. It’s all about personal character to me, whether you are believable or credible as a leader of the country. There are a few of them in the cabinet, including Johnson, who just aren’t.”

There seems to be some desire for change in the constituency, which has been staunchly Conservative since its creation in 1997. Ryan Lacey-Mills, 34, who works in car sales, voted for Johnson in 2019 but now felt the PM was a spent force. He is also weighing up the offer from other parties. “[Johnson] has had his time. He did Brexit,” he said. “Whether it is his fault or not, something needs a shakeup. It’s time for a change.”

Even those still planning to vote Conservative struggle to summon up much enthusiasm. Steven Morris, 69, believes Johnson will have to go eventually. He can’t forgive the parties that took place in No 10 when the country was in lockdown. “I’ve got asthma. I was actually locked up for two months when it all kicked off – and to think they were having parties really upsets me,” he says, cradling a wrapped portion of fish and chips. “I always thought the Conservatives had got standards, but Boris hasn’t got any.”

As they eye Tiverton and Honiton, the Lib Dems have their blood up. Johnson may be able to soldier on after Thursday’s local elections but whether he could survive a byelection defeat in a safe seat in a few weeks time is another matter entirely.