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'You're surely not blaming Putin for losing Medway': Tory chairman blames Ukraine war for 'difficult' election results
5 May 2023, 09:50 | Updated: 5 May 2023, 13:29
The Conservative party has said the war in Ukraine is one of the major factors behind its disappointing results at the local elections.
The Tories have lost control over a number of councils, including Medway in Kent, which had been ran by the party for 23 years.
Reacting to the results, Tory party chairman Greg Hands told LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast: "Well, look - it's been a disappointing night for us and we all said it would be said it would likely to be so.
"We've lost good leaders, councils, councillors, so it's been a difficult night for us overall."
Asked what he puts his party's poor results down to, Mr Hands said: "In many cases, it's local factors, in many cases it's classic mid-term government unpopularity."
Greg Hands: Vladimir Putin was partly responsible for a loss of control in a 'disappointing night'
The Tory party chairman went on: "Clearly, last year was a very difficult year for the whole country, for the whole party.
"After Putin's invasion of Ukraine, the spike in energy prices, the big rise in inflation. People are still dealing with the consequences of that."
Asked if he is blaming Vladimir Putin for losing control of Medway council in Kent after 23 years, Mr Hands said: "Well I'm saying the backdrop to these elections has not been the best."
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak admitted it is "always disappointing to lose hard-working Conservative councillors".
"They're friends, they're colleagues and I'm so grateful to them for everything they've done," Mr Sunak said.
"In terms of the results, it's still early, we've just had a quarter of the results in, but what I am going to carry on doing is delivering on the people's priorities."
"That's what people want us to do, that's what I'm going to keep hard at doing," Mr Sunak added.
Andrew Marr gives his expert analysis on the local election results
The Liberal Democrats have also had a successful set of results so far, with Sir Ed Davey describing the results as "ground-breaking".
The party has seized control of Windsor and Maidenhead, with Sir Ed learning about the results live on LBC.
He told Nick Ferrari: "Wahey - fantastic! That is amazing. That is a stunning result.
"When we began this campaign, we thought we'd make a few gains there. We didn't think we'd take control of the council."