In Dudley in the West Midlands, Tories secured a huge majority in a borough council which had been balanced evenly between Conservatives and Labour, gaining 12 seats from Keir Starmer’s party.
In Nottinghamshire, Mr Johnson’s party gained five councillors to secure overall control of the county council
And in Nuneaton & Bedworth, in Warwickshire, Conservatives gained 11 councillors to take overall control of a district council which had been held by Labour as recently as 2018.
But there were setbacks for Tories, who lost overall control of Cambridgeshire and forfeited Castle Point in Essex to Independents.
Overall, from the first 24 councils to declare, Labour was down by 83 councillors, with Conservatives up 77, Greens up five and Liberal Democrats up nine.
The only consolation for Sir Keir in early results was holding on to Sunderland, following speculation during the campaign that the Labour stronghold was vulnerable.
Even here, though, Starmer’s party shed nine councillors, with Tories picking up six and the Liberal Democrats four.
Elsewhere, Labour kept Gateshead, Newcastle, South Tyneside, Oldham, Rochdale and Wolverhampton, while Conservatives held onto Redditch in Worcestershire, and both Rochford and Thurrock in Essex.
The early results set the scene for a difficult few days for Labour, as votes in a total of 143 English councils are counted.
The party had been hoping for gains in areas where many of the seats were last contested in 2017, a highpoint for Conservatives during Theresa May’s brief honeymoon period as prime minister.