Conservatives face steep losses in UK local elections

Rishi Sunak’s Conservatives on Friday confronted crushing losses in UK native elections as voters in lots of components of England turned in opposition to the get together after a tumultuous 12 months.

The prime minister woke as much as information that his get together was on the ropes, with Labour making inroads within the north and Midlands and the Liberal Democrats advancing in wealthy areas of the south.

Early outcomes prompt the Conservatives may lose as many as 1,000 council seats in contrast with their standing earlier than the elections, matching a few of the get together’s most pessimistic predictions.

However in a single day counting solely passed off in a couple of quarter of the 8,000 seats up for grabs, and Sunak and his rivals should look forward to a fuller image to emerge on Friday afternoon.

Labour took management of Medway council in Kent, seizing it from the Tories for the primary time in 20 years. The get together additionally took management of south-west England’s Plymouth metropolis council, together with Stoke-on-Trent, a part of the previous “crimson wall” that fell to Boris Johnson’s Tories on the 2019 election.

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Labour stated the get together was making positive factors within the sorts of seats it wanted to win again at a basic election anticipated subsequent 12 months. “These outcomes present that we’re heading in the right direction for a majority Labour authorities,” stated Shabana Mahmood, Labour’s marketing campaign chief.

However the early outcomes recommend that Labour chief Sir Keir Starmer nonetheless has work to do to be assured in successful an outright majority on the subsequent basic election — the positive factors had been shared with Lib Dems and the Greens.

By 1pm, the Conservatives had misplaced management of 12 councils, together with Brentwood in Essex, Tamworth in Staffordshire, Hertsmere in Hertfordshire, East Lindsey in Lincolnshire and North West Leicestershire.

Labour had gained 161 seats in contrast with its place instantly earlier than the native elections, whereas the Lib Dems had gained 65 and the Conservatives had misplaced 209.

Liberal Democrat chief Sir Ed Davey stated the outcomes had given him a “Cheshire cat” smile and claimed his get together was advancing throughout the nation.

He highlighted how the Lib Dems had taken management of Windsor and Maidenhead council, the realm represented by former prime minister Theresa Could.

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Sunak stated voters had made it clear that they needed him to give attention to their priorities — the financial system, NHS and immigration — however insisted the Tories had made progress in restricted areas akin to Peterborough.

Greg Fingers, Tory chair, stated: “We at all times stated it could be a troublesome night time for us, and that’s turned out to be the case. It has been a disappointing night time for the get together and the federal government.”

Polling professional Sir John Curtice wrote on the BBC web site that it was doable the Conservatives would attain the brink of 1,000 seat losses however added the positive factors had been being extra evenly divided than anticipated between Labour and the Lib Dems.

“Labour shall be dissatisfied that it seems as if their vote is solely on a par with their efficiency in final 12 months’s native elections, though the Conservatives are nonetheless 5 factors down on 12 months in the past,” Curtice wrote.

For the reason that final set of native elections, the Tories have had three prime ministers — Johnson, Liz Truss and Sunak — and have presided over a interval of political and financial chaos.

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The native elections are more likely to be the final large take a look at of public opinion on the poll field earlier than the final election, anticipated in the summertime or autumn of 2024.

Elections for the wards being contested on Thursday had been final held in 2019, when the Conservatives beneath Could and Labour beneath Jeremy Corbyn each did poorly.

Curtice has stated Labour wants a double-digit vote-share lead within the elections to make sure of a parliamentary majority on the basic election.

“On the outcomes declared to this point, we’re assured Labour could have an equal vote share lead of at the least eight factors, which might symbolize our greatest end result since 1997,” Labour stated.

Information and graphics by Oliver Hawkins, Ella Hollowood and Martin Stabe

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