Sunak urges Tories to stick with his leadership after party suffers shock election losses | Politics News

Labour’s shock victory in the West Midlands mayoral election was a further dagger to Tory hearts after a dire few days of local election results.

Sir Keir Starmer called it a “phenomenal result” which was “beyond our expectations” as Labour’s Richard Parker ousted Tory incumbent Andy Street, who had held the role for seven years.

The margin of victory was a cruelly tight 1,508 votes, and compounded Conservative disappointment as it followed another loss to Sadiq Khan in London, who secured a record-breaking third term as the capital’s mayor.

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The mayoral election results

“People across the country have had enough of Conservative chaos and decline and voted for change with Labour. Our fantastic new mayor Richard Parker stands ready to deliver a fresh start for the West Midlands,” Sir Keir said.

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‘Devastated’ Andy Street refuses to blame Sunak after West Midlands defeat

However, in an effort to win back those who had deserted his party over Labour’s stance on Gaza, he added: “I say directly to those who may have voted Labour in the past but felt that on this occasion that they couldn’t that across the West Midlands we are a proud and diverse community.

“I have heard you. I have listened. And I am determined to meet your concerns and to gain your respect and trust again in the future.”

Labour suffered losses to independents and George Galloway’s Worker’s Party of Britain in areas with large Islamic populations as a result of the war between Israel and Hamas.

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Starmer speaks at East Midlands victory rally

But the party virtually swept the mayoral elections board across England, winning in Liverpool, South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, and in Greater Manchester, where Andy Burnham returned to power.

The Tees Valley was the only remaining splash of blue left on the mayoral election map, where Lord Ben Houchen managed to cling to power despite a huge 14.1-point swing to Labour.

Lord Houchen’s victory was also mired by allegations he had sought to distance himself from Rishi Sunak and the Conservative Party at large during his campaign.

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Sadiq Khan re-elected as London Mayor

Losing Mr Street, who is widely respected in the Tory Party and had an impressive track record of bringing investment into the West Midlands, is a body blow to the prime minister.

Despite the drubbing, Mr Sunak urged his party to stick with his leadership and his plan for government.

In a statement, he said: “It’s been disappointing of course to lose dedicated Conservative councillors and Andy Street in the West Midlands, with his track record of providing great public services and attracting significant investment to the area, but that has redoubled my resolve to continue to make progress on our plan.

“So we will continue working as hard as ever to take the fight to Labour and deliver a brighter future for our country.”

Pic: Reuters
Rishi Sunak with Tees Valley mayor Lord Ben Houchen Pic: Reuters

However, Suella Braverman, the former home secretary, was quick to lay the blame for Tory losses firmly at the door of Number 10.

But she said ousting Mr Sunak “won’t work”, adding: “The hole to dig us out of is the PM’s, and it’s time for him to start shovelling.”

She urged him to adopt “strong leadership, not managerialism” on tax, migration, small boats, and law and order.

But Mr Street took a different view, encouraging the party not to veer to the right.

Asked if he is worried the party is drifting to the right and over-emphasising the threat from Reform UK while “ignoring other voters”, the outgoing mayor told Sky News: “I would definitely not advise that drift.

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Analysis of local election and mayoral results

Read more:
Charts tell story of Conservative collapse
Who is the new West Midlands mayor Richard Parker?

“The psychology here is really very straightforward, isn’t it? This is the youngest, most diverse, one of the most urban places in Britain, and we’ve done, many would say, extremely well over a consistent period,” Mr Street said.

“The message is clear: winning from that centre ground is what happens.”

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‘We will give this region a fresh start’ – Labour’s Richard Parker

Results are in from 106 of the 107 councils in England that held elections on 2 May, and Labour has won 1,140 seats, an increase of more than 200.

The Liberal Democrats beat the Tories into second place, winning 521 seats, up nearly 100.

The Tories were just behind on 513 seats, down nearly 400.

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