- Local elections provide Sunak’s first major electoral test
- The Conservatives could lose 1,000 seats – leading in the polls
- Labor says they are on course to win the next general election
Preliminary results showed on Friday that the Conservatives led by British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak are facing a grim set of local election results as voters punish his party over political scandals, slowing economic growth and soaring inflation.
While the ruling parties often struggle in mid-term elections, the results of the Assembly in England will be the biggest, and perhaps the last, test of voter sentiment before the next general election, which is expected to take place in 2024.
Preliminary results showed that the Conservative Party suffered a net loss of 144 seats on local councils that were up for re-election. The opposition Labor Party, which hopes to secure hundreds of seats in the midterm vote, added 96 seats.
The Labor Party said in a statement that, based on the results of the local elections, they are on course to win the next general election, while smaller political parties such as the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party also made gains.
The local election results will determine more than 8,000 council seats in the 230 local government authorities that are responsible for the provision of day-to-day public services such as bin groups and schools.
Hugh Merriman, the Conservative party’s junior transport secretary, said it had been a “difficult night and it could get even tougher”.
John Curtis, Britain’s most popular pollster, said that based on the results so far, the Conservatives could face a net loss of around 1,000 seats, which is in line with the party’s most pessimistic forecast.
Sunak has tried to restore the conservatives’ credibility since becoming prime minister in October after months of economic chaos, strikes and political scandals.
The Conservatives changed prime ministers three times in the past year after ousting Boris Johnson in part over parties held in government buildings during COVID-19 lockdowns, and Liz Truss was brought down after gambling on tax cuts that shattered Britain’s reputation for financial stability.
Labor has been making gains in some of the areas that supported leaving the European Union in the 2016 Brexit referendum as the party will need to win if it wants to win a majority in the next general election.
In early results, Sunak’s party lost control of five councils, including Brentwood, North Leicestershire and Hertsmere.
Labor won control of Plymouth and Stoke-on-Trent councils, two key battleground areas considered important to the party’s hopes of winning the next general election.
Johnny Mercer, the MP for the area, said it had been an “awful” night for the Conservatives.
Labor leader Keir Starmer visited Plymouth and Stoke-on-Trent during the local election campaign as the party threw resources into regaining control of the councils.
The full picture of the state of the parties will not become clear until later on Friday, when most of the councils will announce their results.
The Conservative Party chairman said in the run-up to the election that the party could lose around 1,000 seats, a figure which some opposition politicians and political analysts thought was deliberately exaggerated so that he could claim the party had done better than expected when the results came in. announce.
The last time most of these local election seats were contested was in 2019 when the Conservatives lost more than 1,300 seats, shortly before then-Prime Minister Theresa May was forced to resign, which was expected to help limit losses in this election.
Reporting by Andrew MacAskill. Editing by Michael Perry
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