Fri, 19 July 2024

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By Ben Guerin
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Conservatives Lose Councils In Senior Tory MPs' Patches 

Liberal Democrats have taken Maidenhead council, in Theresa May's patch, from the Conservatives.

3 min read

Liberal Democrats have made headway in councils represented by senior Tories including two former Prime Ministers, an acting Cabinet Minister, and a former Party Chair who was sacked by Rishi Sunak.

The council in former Conservative stronghold Stratford-upon-Avon has fallen to the Liberal Democrats, months after former Cabinet Minister Nadhim Zahawi was sacked over “a serious breach of the ministerial code”. 

A Lib Dem source said their inroads into the West Midlands council showed how voters were “fed up” with the “endless stream of Conservative sleaze and scandal”.

Nadhim Zahawi now faces a Shakespearean tragedy in his own backyard as the Liberal Democrats are set to take overall control of his council area Stratford on Avon,” they told PoliticsHome.

Lib Dems have also become the largest party in West Oxfordshire, which includes former prime minister David Cameron’s one-time constituency Whitney, after they picked up three more seats from the Tories. The party also took the council in Windsor and Maidenhead – which comprises another former prime minister Theresa May’s parliamentary constituency – after its 22-year-old candidate George Blundell beat Tory incumbent Andrew Johnson.

Conservative MPs are bracing themselves for a catastrophic day for their party as initial local election results suggest they could be on course to lose 1,000 seats. Shortly after lunchtime, with a significant number of councils still to declare, the Conservatives are down 434 seats, Labour has gained 289, and the Lib Dems have gained 213. 

Lib Dems also took control of Surrey Heath council from the Conservatives, which is Michael Gove's patch. "This is a Michael Portillo moment of these local elections. Senior Conservative cabinet ministers are now looking nervously over their shoulders at the Lib Dems," said a party source. 

They added Conservative MPs across the Blue Wall will be petrified with the results coming in from Stratford and Surrey Heath.

The party also made strong vote-share gains in North East Somerset, Jacob Rees Mogg’s constituency, after they received 17,864 votes compared to the Conservatives’ 11,786. 

Conservatives have also lost control of councils in Bromsgrove and Welwyn Hatfield, where the MPs are also senior Tories, which now have no overall control. 

In Welwyn, where Net Zero and Energy Security secretary Grant Shapps is MP, the party lost three seats and their slim majority has been wiped out. 

In Bromsgrove, former Health Secretary’s Sajid Javid’s constituency, Conservatives have lost control for the first time since 1999 despite being the largest party in the council. 

The Lib Dems are now looking ahead to the general election next year, where they have a number of high-profile seats in their sights. 

Constituencies on their list Esher and Walton held by former cabinet minister Dominic Raab and Cheltenham where the incumbent is his replacement as Justice Secretary, Alex Chalk. Professor Jon Tonge said the Lib Dems doing well in local council and by-elections is not a new phenomenon. 

“It is worth remembering that not long ago, the Lib Dems used to be the largest party of local government. It was a huge fall from grace during the coalition years. This year marks the fifth local election the party has made gains,” he told PoliticsHome.

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