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Rishi Sunak Calls for Unity Amid Conservative Electoral Setbacks and Metro Mayor Losses



Rishi Sunak calls on Conservatives to remain loyal to his leadership following unexpected defeats in elections

The Conservative Party secured only one metro mayor election nationwide, with the close loss of Andy Street representing a significant setback for Rishi Sunak.

By Guy Birchall, staff journalist

Sunday, May 5, 2024, 9:

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Rishi Sunak has called on his fellow Conservatives to remain supportive of his leadership in light of the party's unexpected loss in the West Midlands mayoral election, marking a particularly challenging period for the party.

Sir Keir Starmer described the outcome as an "extraordinary achievement," surpassing their expectations, following Richard Parker's victory over the Conservative incumbent Andy Street, who had been in office for seven years.

The victory margin was an agonizingly narrow 1,508 votes, intensifying the Conservative party's frustration following another defeat to Sadiq Khan in London, where he achieved an unprecedented third term as mayor of the city.

Live updates: City mayoral race results

"Citizens nationwide are fed up with the turmoil and deterioration under the Conservatives and have opted for a new direction by voting for Labour. Our exceptional new mayor, Richard Parker, is prepared to provide a new beginning for the West Midlands," stated Sir Keir.

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Attempting to regain the support of those who had abandoned his party due to Labour's position on Gaza, he stated, "To those who have previously supported Labour but felt unable to do so this time, I want to emphasize that here in the West Midlands, we are a community characterized by both pride and diversity."

"I've taken in what you've said. I've paid close attention. And I am committed to addressing your worries, earning back your respect, and regaining your trust moving forward."

Details on the Conservative Party

Despite disappointing outcomes in local elections, Minister states Rishi Sunak is ready for the challenge of a general election.

Tory loss in West Midlands mayoral race sparks debate on party's future

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In regions with significant Muslim communities, Labour faced defeats to independent candidates and George Galloway's Worker's Party of Britain, influenced by the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

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The party overwhelmingly dominated the mayoral elections throughout England, securing victories in Liverpool, South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, and Greater Manchester, where Andy Burnham was re-elected.

Analysis: Labour's Seizure of 'Tory Crown Jewel' Signals Potential Shift in Momentum

Political Editor

The margin was incredibly narrow, yet the triumph was monumental.

The significance of Labour's capture of the West Midlands mayoralty, previously a stronghold for the Conservatives, was palpable among the Labour supporters who convened in Birmingham to rejoice with their newly elected mayor, Richard Parker, and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer.

During the course of election campaigns, there are pivotal instances where the tide turns – and this victory seemed to be just that.

Discover additional articles by Beth

In the Tees Valley, Lord Ben Houchen was the sole Conservative survivor in the recent mayoral elections, holding onto his position even as Labour gained a significant 14.1-point increase.

Lord Houchen's win was overshadowed by claims that he attempted to dissociate himself from Rishi Sunak and the broader Conservative Party throughout his campaign.

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The departure of Mr. Street, a highly esteemed figure in the Tory Party known for his successful efforts in attracting investment to the West Midlands, represents a significant setback for the prime minister.

Despite the harsh defeat, Mr. Sunak encouraged his party members to remain supportive of his leadership and his governmental strategy.

In his remarks, he expressed: "Naturally, it's been disheartening to see the loss of committed Conservative councillors and Andy Street in the West Midlands, who has a history of delivering excellent public services and drawing substantial investment to the region. However, this only strengthens my determination to advance our agenda further."

"We remain committed to tirelessly pursuing our goals against Labour to secure a more promising future for our nation."

Former Home Secretary Suella Braverman swiftly attributed the Conservative Party's losses directly to the leadership at 10 Downing Street.

However, she stated that removing Mr. Sunak "won't be effective," and noted: "The responsibility to extricate us falls on the Prime Minister, and he needs to begin taking action."

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She pressed him to embrace "decisive leadership, not mere administration" in matters of taxation, immigration, small boat crossings, and criminal justice.

What are the responsibilities of the Birmingham mayor?

During an appearance on the Electoral Dysfunction podcast, Jess Phillips, the Labour MP representing Birmingham Yardley, downplayed the significance of the mayoral duties:

"She remarked, 'Nobody cares that we have a mayor in Birmingham.'"

Certainly, and I cannot emphasize this enough, it means nothing to any of us. You see, when it comes to being politically active in Birmingham, I'd rank myself among the top 10. Yet, I have no idea what Andy Street's responsibilities are.

In Birmingham, authority over the police is not within its purview, nor does it handle health-related matters. Unlike Andy Burnham's role, or the extensive operations of Transport for London, which is a major entity.

"Just as our mayor poorly manages the bus system, we also have a police and crime commissioner. Yet, they fail to oversee that effectively either. It's completely ineffective."

Tune into the Electoral Dysfunction podcast by clicking here.

However, Mr. Street offered an alternative perspective, urging the party to avoid shifting too far to the right.

When questioned about concerns that the party is veering too far to the right and focusing too much on the threat posed by Reform UK at the expense of other voters, the departing mayor said to Sophy Ridge, "I would certainly not recommend that shift."

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Discover more: Graphs illustrate the decline of the Conservative Party. Who is Richard Parker, the newly elected mayor of West Midlands?

"The underlying psychology is quite simple, don't you think? This area is the youngest, most varied, and among the most urban in Britain, and many would argue that we have achieved great success consistently over time," Mr. Street remarked.

"The takeaway is straightforward: success often comes from occupying the middle ground."

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The election outcomes from 106 out of the 107 local authorities in England that went to the polls on May 2nd are now public. Labour has secured 1,140 seats,">king a gain of over 200.

The Liberal Democrats surpassed the Conservatives, securing 521 seats, an increase of almost 100.

The Conservatives secured 513 seats, a decrease of almost 400.

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