A Conservative Party council leader walked out of his vote count before the result had even been announced, saying Partygate was the main reason the Tories suffered local election losses.
Councillor Marc Bayliss, leader of Worcester City Council and head of the council’s Conservatives, decided to leave early amid fears voters would punish his party over the scandal.
Boris Johnson, his wife Carrie Johnson and his chancellor Rishi Sunak were among at least 50 people hande fixed penalty notices by police for illegal gatherings held in Downing Street and Whitehall as the country was under strict COVID-19 laws.
Before the count result came in Cllr Bayliss said the electorate have found the behaviour of the Tory party's leaders "wanting", before adding: "I think it is fair to say we are having a bad night.”
The Tories lost control of the council, after three seat losses to Labour, the Green Party and the Liberal Democrats left no party with a majority.
Cllr Bayliss told Worcester News: “[On the doorsteps] it’s been about Boris Johnson.
“I take that to be Partygate rather than general government performance. That’s my perception.
“Nobody is really saying anything about the cost of living. I’m sure it’s biting but I don’t necessarily think that the public blame the government for that.”
Johnson's party has faced major losses overnight, shedding major London authorities to Labour and sufferring setbacks across England.
Pressed on the results during a visit to a school in his Uxbridge and South Ruislip constituency, Boris Johnson conceded the Conservatives endured a “tough night”.
Asked by broadcasters if he took responsibility for the results, Johnson said: “Of course”.
He added: “It is mid-term. It’s certainly a mixed set of results.
“We had a tough night in some parts of the country but on the other hand in other parts of the country you are still seeing Conservatives going forward and making quite remarkable gains in places that haven’t voted Conservative for a long time, if ever.”
Sir Keir Starmer’s party further strengthened its grip on the capital, taking control of Wandsworth, winning Westminster for the first time since its creation in 1964 and clinching victory in Barnet.
Watch: Labour victorious in Wandsworth, Westminster and Barney in local elections
As dozens of Tory councillors lost their seats against a backdrop of the row about lockdown-busting parties in No 10 and the cost-of-living crisis, local Conservative leaders criticised the Prime Minister.
John Mallinson, leader of Carlisle City Council hit out after Labour took control of the new Cumberland authority which will replace it.
He told the BBC: “I think it is not just partygate, there is the integrity issue.
“Basically I just don’t feel people any longer have the confidence that the Prime Minister can be relied upon to tell the truth.”
In Portsmouth, where the Tories lost four seats, Simon Bosher the leader of the Conservative group said Mr Johnson should “take a good, strong look in the mirror” because “those are people that are actually bearing the brunt on the doorstep of behaviour of what’s been going on in Westminster”.
Ravi Govindia, leader of the Wandsworth Tories, said: “Let’s not be coy about it, of course national issues were part of the dilemma people were facing.”
Before the final results were declared in Barnet, the Conservative group leader Daniel Thomas conceded defeat, saying the loss was a “warning shot” from his party’s supporters.
“Clearly if Labour are to get a majority in Parliament they need to win Barnet,” he said.
“They won the council, if they win our parliamentary constituencies as well, then it doesn’t bode well for us to form a Government in future general elections.”