Updated May 3rd, 2024 at 17:41 IST

Conservatives Suffer Heavy Losses in Local Elections, but Hold on in Key Mayoralty

As the Conservatives grapple with electoral setbacks and internal divisions, the party faces a crucial period of introspection before the general elections.

Reported by: Digital Desk
British PM Rishi Sunak. | Image:AP
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The Conservative Party, led by Rishi Sunak, faced significant setbacks in local elections across England and Wales, as well as in the Blackpool South parliamentary by-election, where Labour secured a decisive victory. However, the Tories managed to retain control in a crucial mayoral race amidst growing pressure on Sunak's leadership.

Results from the recent elections indicated that the governing party could potentially lose half of the council seats it was defending, signaling a challenging political landscape ahead of an anticipated general election later this year. Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer characterized the 26 percent swing in Blackpool as "seismic," intensifying scrutiny on Sunak's leadership within the Conservative ranks.

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How much trouble is Rishi Sunak in?

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's grip on power appears to be weakening amid internal party turmoil, compounded by the aftermath of Liz Truss's brief and tumultuous leadership. Despite these challenges, the Conservatives found solace in retaining the mayoralty of Tees Valley, with incumbent Lord Ben Houchen maintaining popularity at the local level.

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Sunak safe, for now?

While there were murmurs of discontent within the Conservative Party regarding Sunak's leadership, early indications suggested a reluctance among right-wing critics to instigate a leadership challenge. Former cabinet ministers conveyed a "stay calm" message, signaling a temporary reprieve for Sunak.

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Dame Andrea Jenkyns, a vocal supporter of Boris Johnson who previously expressed no-confidence in Sunak, hinted at a lack of momentum for ousting the prime minister. Tory chair Richard Holden reaffirmed confidence in Sunak's leadership, asserting that Sunak would lead the party into the upcoming general election without question.

As the Conservatives grapple with electoral setbacks and internal divisions, the party faces a crucial period of introspection in preparation for future electoral battles.

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Published May 3rd, 2024 at 17:41 IST