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Rishi Sunak warned not to drift to right after disastrous results

Rishi Sunak has been warned not to drift to the right after his party suffered mayoral elections losses in England’s two biggest cities.

Labour’s Sadiq Khan stormed to victory in London but the West Midlands contest, which the Tories were on course to win, was seen as a potential lifeline for Sunak in an otherwise disastrous set of local election results: the party also lost nearly 400 council seats.

The prime minister had hoped a brace of wins – alongside Lord Ben Houchen’s victory in the Tees Valley mayoralty – could be enough to stave off rebellious Tory backbenchers. But Andy Street’s loss in the West Midlands is likely to ramp up the pressure on his leadership once again.

On Saturday, Sunak acknowledged the “disappointing” results but, in an apparent message to rebel backbenchers, added they have “redoubled my resolve to continue to make progress on our plan”.

However, Andy Street, the outgoing Tory West Midlands mayor, warned Sunak not to “drift” to the right and that “winning from the center ground is what happens”.

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  • Cabinet minister: Tories can still win

    Transport secretary Mark Harper has insisted the Conservatives are still in with a chance of winning the next general election, despite the party’s local elections trouncing.

    He told Sky News: “These were disappointing results but the point is what they demonstrate… is that Labor is not on course for that majority, Keir Starmer hasn’t sealed the deal with the public.

    “So that means there is a fight to be had, the prime minister is up for that fight, I am up for that fight, and I know the Conservative Party is up for it.”

  • Two maps which will make grim reading for Rishi Sunak

    Mayoral results…

    (PA)(PA)

    (PA)

    …and council results

    (PA)(PA)

    (PA)

  • Tories’ standing in eyes of the public has hit new depths – John Curtice

    Rishi Sunak pictured on Friday.  (PA)Rishi Sunak pictured on Friday.  (PA)

    Rishi Sunak pictured on Friday. (PA)

    When the round of elections held on Thursday was held back in 2016, the Conservatives lost ground too. Nevertheless, they still won 30 per cent of the seats being contested. This time around they have won just 20 per cent, even fewer than the Liberal Democrats.

    That is perhaps the clearest indication of the depths to which the party’s standing in the eyes of the public has now fallen, just six months at most from a general election.

    Read the analysis from elections expert Sir Prof John Curtice in The Telegraph