THE Conservatives have suffered major losses in Rishi Sunak’s first electoral test as Prime Minister as Labour claimed the results suggested Sir Keir Starmer would succeed him in No 10.

The LibDems also made gains as the Tories lost control in a series of councils across England.

With full results from 58 of the 230 councils where elections were being held:

  • The Tories have lost seven councils and suffered a net loss of 167 councillors.
  • Labour have gained control of three councils and 129 councillors.
  • The LibDems have gained one council and 55 councillors overall.
  • The Green Party has gained nine councillors.

Conservative Party chairman Greg Hands conceded that the results were “disappointing”, telling GB News: “We always said it would be a difficult night for the party, the independent projections were all that we were going to lose 1000 seats.

“It’s still early days so far but if I might say, it’s not been that great a result for Labour in some areas.

“We’ve actually gained seats in Peterborough, Sandwell, Bassetlaw and other areas that Labour need to win at the next election.”

Labour took Medway off the Tories and will run the Kent council for the first time since 1998.

Labour gained control of Plymouth, where the Tories had run a minority administration – a result branded “terrible” by Government minister and MP Johnny Mercer – then did the same in Stoke-on-Trent, another general election battleground.

In Hertsmere, where Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden is MP, the Tories lost control of the council, with 13 councillors voted out while Labour gained seven and the Lib Dems six.

Tamworth, Brentford, North West Leicestershire and East Lindsey also fell from Tory administrations to no overall control.

Labour reaction

Starmer's party expects to have its best local election results since 1997, with an equivalent vote share lead of at least 8% over the Tories, something which could result in a majority Labour government if repeated at a Westminster contest.

Shabana Mahmood, Labour’s national campaign co-ordinator, said: “These results have been a disaster for Rishi Sunak as voters punish him for the Tories’ failure.”

Labour claimed that, based on the aggregate vote, the party would have won the Westminster constituencies of Hartlepool, Stevenage, Dudley South, Ipswich, West Bromwich East, Great Grimsby and Aldershot, which has been held by the Tories since its creation as a seat in 1918.

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Labour’s Chris Cooke won the battle to become mayor of Middlesbrough, defeating the independent incumbent Andy Preston with a swing of almost 20%.

LibDems leader Ed Davey said it had been a “groundbreaking night” for his party.

He said: “We are exceeding all expectations. We have delivered a hammer blow to the Conservative Party in the blue wall ahead of next year’s general election.”

Voter ID 

The elections were branded a “dark day for British democracy” by campaigners opposed to the introduction of photo ID, who claimed thousands of people had been denied their right to vote.

The contests were the first to be fought under new rules requiring voters to carry photographic ID, and the elections watchdog said some people were turned away from polling stations.

An Electoral Commission spokesman said: “We already know from our research that the ID requirement posed a greater challenge for some groups in society, and that some people were regrettably unable to vote today as a result.

“It will be essential to understand the extent of this impact, and the reasons behind it, before a final view can be taken on how the policy has worked in practice and what can be learned for future elections.”

Tom Brake of Unlock Democracy, who is leading a coalition of groups opposed to the policy including the Electoral Reform Society, Fair Vote UK and Open Britain, said: “Today has been a dark day for British democracy.

“Reports from all over the country confirm our very worst fears of the impact of the disastrous policy which has been made worse by the shambolic way it has been introduced.”

The Association of Electoral Administrators’ chief executive Peter Stanyon said there had been “many anecdotal reports” of people being unable to vote but “it is still too early to gauge how introducing voter ID has gone”.

Prime Minister's reaction

Sunak said he would continue to “deliver" on what he called the "people’s priorities” including halving inflation and “stopping the boats”.

He stressed that only a quarter of the results have been announced and echoed Hands’ thoughts that progress had been made in “key battlegrounds” in an interview with GB News.

The PM continued to repeat that only a quarter of the votes had come in and that he wasn’t detecting a lot of “excitement” towards the Labour Party.