United Kingdom: Sensational Defeat for Prime Minister Sunak’s Conservatives in Local Elections

The biggest blow to Tory political power in 40 years

Keir Starmer (a sinistra) con Chris Webb, nuovo deputato alla Camera dei Comuni di Blackpool South

British media have characterized local elections in England and Wales, the heartland of the United Kingdom, as a “dress rehearsal for legislative elections” scheduled for late 2024 and early 2025. According to near-final results after ballots were counted, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Conservative Party suffered its “worst political defeat in 40 years” in the elections on Thursday, May 2.

The government formation, in power in the country for 14 years, lost more than half of the local council seats won in the previous 2021 election round. In addition to the mayors of London and 9 other major cities, voters were invited to cast their ballots for some 2600 members of various levels of administration. Pending the final results, which are due to be released on Sunday or at the latest Monday, May 6, Sadiq Khan’s confirmation for a third term as Mayor of Greater London also seems a done deal among the nine mayoral seats defended by the Labor Party.

The collapse of the Tory party will be designed to create new pressure on the already wavering Sunak leadership, almost like putting it in doubt even before the next general election, due in the UK by the end of January 2025. According to some leaked reports from Downing Street, Sunak would like to schedule an election for next autumn. A very risky gamble: according to opinion polls, the Conservatives risk a historic defeat in the face of Keir Starmer’s Labor Party.

This already happened on Thursday in the South Blackpool constituency in Lancashire, in the north of England, where Labor Party candidate Chris Webb won the race for the only parliamentary seat in the House of Commons by a wide margin, with nearly 60% of the vote, while Conservative challenger David Jones managed only 17% of the vote in his favor.

Labor Party leader Starmer called Webb’s success “seismic” and extolled it as the “most important” of all the May 2 local elections, immediately calling on Sunak to take note that the country no longer wanted him and to “call a general election” as soon as possible.