Rishi's double trouble: Sunak loses in London and West Midlands as Tories suffer second dire election day

4 May 2024, 23:01 | Updated: 5 May 2024, 00:08

Rishi Sunak suffered a double local election humiliation as Sadiq Khan and Richard Parker took home the London and West Midlands mayoralties.
Rishi Sunak suffered a double local election humiliation as Sadiq Khan and Richard Parker took home the London and West Midlands mayoralties. Picture: Alamy

By Chay Quinn

Rishi Sunak suffered a double local election humiliation as Sadiq Khan and Richard Parker took home the London and West Midlands mayoralties.

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Labour's Richard Parker defeated Conservative Andy Street to win the West Midlands mayoralty by just 1,508 votes.

After a recount in Coventry, it was confirmed that Mr Parker garnered 225,590 votes to beat Mr Street's 224,082.

The result is a major upset and will intensify fears of a Tory wipeout in the general election.

Read More: Local elections LIVE: Labour 'wins West Midlands mayoralty' in major shock after Khan and Burnham victories

Despite earlier reports of Tory rebels stopping their attempts to replace Mr Sunak as leader, it is unknown whether the double mayoral headache will reignite their plots.

The West Midlands mayoral election is perhaps the biggest victory in a series of wins for Labour in the local elections.

Defeated Conservative Andy Street (left) listens to Labour's Richard Parker speaking as he is elected as the new Mayor of West Midlands, following the count at the International Convention Centre in Birmingham. Picture date: Saturday May 4, 2024.
Labour's Richard Parker defeated Conservative Andy Street to win the West Midlands mayoralty by just 1,508 votes. Picture: Alamy
Labour's Sadiq Khan (second right) is re-elected as the Mayor of London, at City Hall, London as Conservative party candidate Susan Hall (left), Liberal Democrat candidate Rob Blackie
The bombshell result came hours after rumours of a Tory victory in London were dashed with a massive victory for Sadiq Khan. Picture: Alamy

Mr Street had attempted to distance himself from the Conservatives during the campaign but could not do so sufficiently enough to save his job.

The bombshell result came hours after rumours of a Tory victory in London were dashed with a massive victory for Sadiq Khan.

Read More: Labour hails local election wins but Sunak says public will 'stick with' Tories at general election despite poor results

Read More: Sadiq Khan secures historic third term as Mayor of London after beating out Tory candidate Susan Hall

Mr Khan won with 43.7% of the vote, while Conservative Susan Hall took 32.6%. Turnout was 40.5%, which is slightly down compared with 2021.

The mayoralties capped off a dismal set of local elections for the Conservatives - in which the Tories lost almost half of the seats they held before Thursday.

Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, said: “This phenomenal result was beyond our expectations. People across the country have had enough of Conservative chaos and decline and voted for change with Labour.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak doing media interviews during a visit to the Catterick military base in North Yorkshire. Picture date: Friday May 3, 2024.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak doing media interviews during a visit to the Catterick military base in North Yorkshire. Picture date: Friday May 3, 2024. Picture: Alamy

Despite grumbling from some rebel voices, Mr Sunak appeared resolute that his leadership was still right for the party and the country.

In a statement, he said: "It's been disappointing of course to lose dedicated Conservative councillors and Andy Street in the West Midlands, with his track record of providing great public services and attracting significant investment to the area, but that has redoubled my resolve to continue to make progress on our plan.

"So we will continue working as hard as ever to take the fight to Labour and deliver a brighter future for our country."

Suella Braverman, the Conservative former home secretary, was quick to lay the blame for Tory losses at the door of Downing Street.

She said ousting Mr Sunak as party leader "won't work", but wrote in the Telegraph: "The hole to dig us out of is the PM's, and it's time for him to start shovelling."

Outgoing West Midlands mayor Mr Street meanwhile urged the Conservative leader not to stray rightwards, and to stick to a moderate path in order to win votes in the future.

"I would definitely not advise that drift," he told Sky News.

Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer speaks to the media as he celebrates with newly elected Mayor of West Midlands Richard Parker (not pictured) at the International Convention Centre in Birmingham. Picture date: Saturday May 4, 2024.
Speaking before the London result was confirmed, leader of the Labour Party, Sir Keir Starmer, said he was confident Mr Khan was the right candidate to lead London for another four years. . Picture: Alamy

"Our fantastic new mayor Richard Parker stands ready to deliver a fresh start for the West Midlands.

“My changed Labour party is back in the service of working people, and stands ready to govern.

"Labour will turn the page after fourteen years of Tory decline and usher in a decade of national renewal. That change starts today.”

Speaking before the London result was confirmed, leader of the Labour Party, Sir Keir Starmer, said he was confident Mr Khan was the right candidate to lead London for another four years.

"Sadiq Khan was absolutely the right candidate," he said.

"He has got two terms of delivery behind him and I am confident that he has got another term of delivery in front of him," Starmer added.

Mr Khan ran his campaign on promises to provide free school meals for all children in London and make the capital city greener.

On Friday, defiant Rishi Sunak has insisted there is “everything to fight for” despite a disastrous night for the Conservative Party in the local and mayoral elections.

Despite acknowledging a "disappointing" set of results in England, the Prime Minister remains confident saying that "Labour is not winning in places they admit they need", in a piece for the Telegraph.

“Thursday’s results showed that voters are frustrated and wondering why they should vote.

“The fact that Labour is not winning in places they admit they need for a majority shows that Keir Starmer’s lack of plan and vision is hurting them.

"We Conservatives have everything to fight for – and we will, because we are fighting for our values and our country’s future.”

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