Tories hit by big council losses in last pre-general election test

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Desk report: The Conservatives have endured one of their worst local election results in a decade in the last big test of public opinion before a general election.

The Tories lost nearly half the seats they contested, with only a handful of council and mayoral results pending.

In contrast, Labour won key councils, regional mayors and a decisive victory in the Blackpool South by-election.

The PM called the results “disappointing” but denied Labour was on track for a general election win.

In a rare bright spot for the Tories, Ben Houchen was elected for a third term in Tees Valley, with a much reduced majority.

Speaking at a press event in Teesside International Airport, Mr Sunak said the results showed at the general election election voters “are going to stick with us”.

Mr Sunak said Labour “knew they have to win here in order to win a general election”, but said voters know “the Conservatives are building a brighter future for Teesside and a brighter future of Britain”.

In total, the Conservatives lost ten councils in England and ended the day with more than 400 fewer councillors.

Labour emerged as the main beneficiary, gaining 169 new councillors and making advances in areas the party claim point toward a general election victory.

The party also won all three of the newly created regional mayors in the East Midlands, North East and York and North Yorkshire.

Speaking at Northallerton Town Football Club in North Yorkshire, Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer said the result was a “historic victory” for Labour in “the heart of Tory territory”.

The newly created York and North Yorkshire mayoralty includes Mr Sunak’s Richmond constituency.

He said: “We’ve had a positive campaign here and I am very, very proud to stand here as leader of the Labour Party to celebrate this historic victory.

“And it is a historic victory – these are places where we would not have usually had a Labour Party success but we’ve been able to create that success and persuade people to vote for us.”

The local election results so far yielded a wealth of results for the parties to pore over with around 2,600 seats contested across 107 councils, 37 police and crime commissioners, and 11 local mayors.

Results will continue to come in on Saturday and Sunday.

But Friday’s results align with national polling that puts Labour as much as 20 points ahead of the Conservatives in general election intentions.

Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats are now calling for Mr Sunak to call for a general election.

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