Local elections: Tories suffer big losses including commuter belt councils Hertsmere, Brentwood, Windsor and Maidenhead
The Conservatives have been hit by major losses in the local elections – losing over a third of their council seats so far.
Losses include key commuter belt councils Hertsmere, Brentwood and Windsor and Maidenhead – which includes former prime minister Theresa May’s constituency.
It was prime minister Rishi Sunak’s first significant electoral test since entering Downing Street, and Labour claim the results suggest Sir Keir Starmer is set to replace him in No10.
Results are yet to come in for elections across commuter towns in Surrey, Hertfordshire and Sussex.
The Liberal Democrats also made gains as the Tories lost control of a series of councils across England.
Commuter belt councils
Labour took Medway off the Tories and will run the Kent council for the first time since 1998, and gained Plymouth in a result branded “terrible” by minister and local MP Johnny Mercer.
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.
On the eve of King Charles’ coronation, the Tories lost control in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, with the Lib Dems claiming victory.
But the party hung on to areas including Broxbourne in Hertfordshire, and Harlow, Thurrock and Basildon in Essex, as well as Havant near Portsmouth.
Conservative insiders said they had always expected a “tough night for the party”, but with the prospect of a general election in 2024 there will be concerns over the extent of the local elections losses.
Labour’s national campaign co-ordinator Shabana Mahmood said: “These results show that we are on course for a majority Labour government.
“These results have been a disaster for Rishi Sunak as voters punish him for the Tories’ failure.”
While Lib Dem leader Sir Ed said it had been a “groundbreaking night” for his party.
“We are exceeding all expectations,” he said. “We have delivered a hammer blow to the Conservative Party in the blue wall ahead of next year’s general election.
“We’re making progress all over the country – including in the heart of the blue wall.”
Photo ID concerns
Conservative Party chairman Greg Hands told GB News: “We always said it would be a difficult night… the independent projections were all that we were going to lose 1,000 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, other areas that Labour need to win at the next election.”
There were concerns about photo ID which was introduced for the first time as a requirement to vote – with campaigners branding the locals a “dark day for British democracy”.
Watchdog the Electoral Commission said some people were turned away from polling stations.
A spokesman said: “We already know from our research the ID requirement posed a greater challenge for some groups in society, and that some people were regrettably unable to vote.”
With David Hughes and Martina Bet, PA Political Staff