West News Wire: The Conservative Party lost over 1,000 council seats in Britain’s local elections on Friday, with the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats splitting the spoils. Sunak’s party had obtained 2,299 of just over 8,000 seats with 229 of 230 councils reporting on Saturday afternoon, losing 1,058 seats. The Labour Party gained 536 votes, while the Liberal Democrats gained 405 votes. Independent councillors lost 80 seats, but the Greens gained 481, tripling their presence on local governments.
The Conservative Party was forced to relinquish control of more than 40 councils, including Medway in southeast England, which it had ruled since the late 1990s. Labour leader Keir Starmer congratulated his party on its victory in Medway, telling supporters that “we are on course for victory.”
Local elections in the UK are frequently seen as votes on the ruling party. The last year of Conservative control has been turbulent, despite the fact that the Tories have been in power since 2010. The ‘partygate’ controversy forced Boris Johnson to resign as prime minister last summer. Liz Truss took his place, and in her six weeks in power, she managed to crash the value of the British pound with a budget that included billions of dollars’ worth of tax cuts.
The party hailed Sunak, a former banker, as a steady hand who could reestablish economic stability. However, during his leadership, food and energy prices have continued to climb, and the UK is set to have the worst-performing large economy in the world this year, according to figures from the International Monetary Fund.
However, local elections are also decided on local issues, such as potholes, parking fees, and garbage collection. The Conservatives lost 1,330 seats in the 2019 local elections, before winning a landslide majority in a general election less than six months later.
Speaking to reporters on Friday, Sunak called the results “disappointing,” but said that he was “not detecting any massive groundswell of movement toward the Labour Party or excitement for their agenda.”