- The local elections provide Sunak with its first major electoral test
- Conservatives could lose 1,000 seats – leading poll
- Labor says they must win the next general election
LONDON, May 5 (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Conservatives faced bleak local election results as voters punished his party for political scandals, sluggish economic growth and high inflation.
While ruling parties often struggle in mid-term elections, the UK’s council results will be the biggest and last measure of voter sentiment before the next general election in 2024.
The Conservatives suffered a net loss of 144 seats in local councils up for re-election, preliminary results show. The main opposition Labor Party, which is hoping to pick up hundreds of seats in the by-election, added 96 seats.
Labor said in a statement that it is on track to win the next general election based on the results of these local elections, while smaller political parties such as the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party have also won.
Local government election results will determine more than 8,000 council seats in 230 local authorities, which are responsible for the day-to-day provision of public services such as rubbish bins and schools.
Conservative senior transport minister Huw Merriman said it was a “difficult night and it could be tough”.
John Curtis, Britain’s most popular pollster, said based on the results so far, the Conservatives would suffer a net loss of around 1,000 seats, in line with the party’s most pessimistic forecast.
Chung has sought to restore the Conservatives’ credibility since becoming prime minister in October following months of economic turmoil, strikes and political scandals.
The Conservatives have changed prime ministers three times in the past year after Boris Johnson was partially ousted at parties held in government buildings during the COVID-19 lockdowns, and Liz Truss was ousted following a gamble on tax cuts that tarnished Britain’s reputation for fiscal stability.
Labor has made gains in some areas that supported leaving the European Union in the 2016 Brexit referendum.
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 vital to the party’s hopes of winning the next general election.
Johnny Mercer, the MP for the area, said it was a “terrible” night for the Conservatives.
Labor leader Keir Starmer visited Plymouth and Stoke-on-Trent during the local election campaign.
The full picture of the parties’ position will not be clear until Friday, when most assemblies announce their results.
The leader of the Conservative Party said before the election that the party would lose about 1,000 seats, which some opposition politicians and political analysts believe was a deliberate exaggeration, so he could say the party had done better than expected when the results came out. declared.
When most of these local elections were last contested in 2019, the Conservative Party lost more than 1,300 seats, shortly before then-Prime Minister Theresa May was forced to resign, which was expected to help reduce losses in these elections.
Reporting by Andrew MacAskill; Editing by Michael Perry
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