British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said Friday that Conservative Party losses in early results from polls to elect some 8,000 local authority councilors across England were disappointing. File Photo by Hugo Philpott/UPI | License Photo
May 5 (UPI) -- Britain's ruling-Conservative Party has suffered large losses in local elections, early results Friday from more than 200 local authorities being contested across England show.
The opposition Labor Party and Liberal Democrats made significant gains in voting for council elections that are seen as a barometer for what might happen in a general election. The Conservatives had at least five confirmed losses including Windsor and Maidenhead, Hertsmere, and Tamworth.
Across England, the Conservatives have suffered a net loss of at least 266 councilors, mostly from the South and East of the country where they are strongest.
Some eight million people were eligible to vote for more than 8,000 seats in 230 of England's 317 councils and mayoral contests in Bedford, Leicester, Mansfield and Middlesbrough. Elections for all 462 seats in Northern Ireland's 11 local authorities take place on May 18.
Labor wrested control from the Conservatives in Plymouth, Stoke-on-Trent and Medway where party leader Keir Starmer told campaigners the turnover was about the cost of living crisis and Labor would win a majority at next year's general election.
"We understood what it's like not to be able to make ends meet and we said what we would do to help people with their everyday bills. And the government, the prime minister said nothing. And that's because they're the problem, not the solution.
Starmer said he and his colleagues had changed the party and won the trust and confidence of voters and could now "go on to change our country."
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he accepted that some results had been "disappointing" but remained adamant the Conservatives were notching up gains in "key election battlegrounds."
The Liberal Democrats took control of Windsor and Maidenhead council with leader Sir Ed Davey calling the result "ground-breaking, even though the party's net gain was just one council, due to the fact that up until yesterday had been a "safe" Conservative district.
However, the party has added 165 to its tally of councilors so far, giving it a total of 394 across England.
The majority of results have yet to be announced as vote counting continues across the country.