Minister admits local election results ‘not good’ for Tories as Labour vows ‘best is yet to come’

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Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer has admitted the local election results were “not good” for the Conservatives, but insists Rishi Sunak is “starting to deliver in a quiet way for the British people”.

Her party lost more than a thousand seats after voters went to the polls across England, seeing Labour take over as the largest party in local government for the first time in more than 20 years.

Politics latest: Sophy Ridge on Sunday digests local election results

The minister told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme that people were “angry and frustrated” with the government, and were finding the rising cost of living “difficult”.

But she blamed the long period the Tories have had in government, the impact of the pandemic and the fallout of the Ukraine war for the poor electoral performance, rather than Mr Sunak and his policies.

“I totally recognise we’ve had a really difficult few years,” she said. “[But] I do think that the prime minister, who’s been in office for six months, is getting the country back on track and is delivering, and I think we’re starting to gain the trust of the British public.”

See full local election results here

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Labour ‘confident’ after council gains

Meanwhile, Labour’s Wes Streeting said his party was “confident but not complacent” after Thursday’s results, which saw them gain over 500 seats and control of another 22 councils.

The shadow health secretary told Sophy Ridge: “I think those results do point to enormous progress made under [Sir] Keir Starmer’s leadership.

“He’s changed the Labour Party – now he’s got a hearing to be able to change the country. But there’s more to do.”

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Labour: ‘The best is yet to come’

Will Labour and the Lib Dems join forces?

Mr Streeting promised the party would be setting out more of its big “missions” in the coming weeks, including its plans to tackle issues in the NHS and education.

But while he insisted Labour would “win the next general election”, he did not rule out entering a coalition with the Liberal Democrats when pushed, instead saying he was “not entertaining the prospect”.

The shadow minister added: “This is a process, not an event. We’re not at the final destination yet in terms of the general election.”

The Lib Dems had a successful night on Thursday too, with more than 400 seat gains and control of an additional 12 councils under their belts.

Deputy leader Daisy Cooper told Sophy Ridge it was “a record-breaking set of results for us, and we really exceed all of our own expectation”.

Ms Cooper also didn’t rule out entering a coalition government with Labour, instead saying: “Everything we do between now and the general election will be about focusing on getting the Democrat MP elected.”

She pointed to some key areas in the so-called “Blue Wall” where the party was making an impact.

“This weekend there’ll be a number of the Conservative big beasts, Michael Gove, Jeremy Hunt, former prime minister Theresa May, even Nadhim Zahawi, who will have woken up to having a Liberal Democrat run council,” she said.

“And they’ll be looking over their shoulder, knowing that we’re coming for their parliamentary seats at the next general election.”

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Lib Dems don’t rule out coalition with Labour

The final results

The final tallies from this week’s votes showed Labour with 2,652 seats across local authorities, up by 528, the Tories with 2,287, down by 1,064, and the Lib Dems with 1,615 seats, up by 407.

The Labour wins came in key battleground areas the party had been targeting, including Medway in Kent and Swindon in the South West, as well as Red Wall councils like Stoke-on-Trent.

Meanwhile, the Tories lost control of 49 councils, including Surrey Heath, Staffordshire Moorlands and Central Bedfordshire.

The Green Party also had a good night, adding 241 seats to their total, bring it to 481, and winning an outright majority on a council for the first time.

Projected national estimated vote share
Projected national estimated vote share

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‘This is a big swing’ to Labour

Sky News’ election analyst Professor Michael Thrasher said that based on analysis of change in vote share across 1,500 wards, Labour was the most popular party with 36%, with the Conservative share 29%, Lib Dems with 18% and others standing at 17%.

And if this week’s results were translated into a national election, Labour would be on course to become the largest party the next time the country went to the polls – gaining 95 seats to an improved total of 298.

But while this figure would be the highest number since Labour won the 2005 general election, it would still be 28 short of an overall majority.

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