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Local elections 2023: Early results see Labour and Lib Dems win key battlegrounds

Local elections 2023: Early results see Labour and Lib Dems win key battlegrounds

Early results in local elections in England have seen Labour and the Liberal Democrats gain key councils at the expense of the Conservatives.

Labour won control in Plymouth, Medway and Stoke-on-Trent – a former Labour stronghold which saw Tory MPs win in the 2019 general election.

Lib Dems won control in traditionally Conservative Windsor and Maidenhead.

The vote is the first big test of Rishi Sunak’s electoral popularity since he became prime minister.

Only a minority of councils counted overnight and most results will not be confirmed until later on Friday, but the Conservatives have so far lost control of 11 councils.

The prime minister said it was disappointing to lose Conservative councillors, but added his party was making progress in “key election battlegrounds” like Peterborough, Sandwell and Bassetlaw.

“I’m not detecting any massive groundswell of movement towards the Labour Party or excitement for their agenda,” he said.

Some Tories were clearly worried about the results, calling them a wake up call, with several telling the BBC’s chief political correspondent Nick Eardley that apathy – Conservative voters staying at home – was also a big problem.

Analysis of the initial results suggest Labour are making steady if not overwhelming gains, but the party says it is making good progress in the key battlegrounds necessary to win a general election.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer travelled to Medway to celebrate his party’s victory in the Kent council with local activists. “You didn’t just get it over the line, you blew the doors off,” he told the crowd.

He said Labour were “on course” to win a majority at the next general election.

Speaking in Windsor, where his party won its target council of Windsor and Maidenhead from the Conservatives, Liberal Democrat Leader Sir Ed Davey: “The Liberal Democrats are the big winners in this year’s local elections.

“I’m so proud that when Katy Perry and Lionel Richie enter Windsor Castle for the coronation concert on Sunday, they’ll be going into a ward that’s represented by three brand new Liberal Democrat councillors.”

Results will continue to be declared throughout Friday, including three mayoral contests in Bedford, Leicester and Mansfield.

In Middlesbrough, Labour’s Chris Cooke became mayor beating the incumbent candidate.

Elections are not taking place in London, Scotland or Wales. Council elections in Northern Ireland have been moved back to Thursday 18 May because of the Coronation of King Charles III on Saturday.


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