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Sunak admits Tories may not win next general election

Rishi Sunak has admitted the Conservatives may not win the next general election as he faces continued fallout after the weekend’s bruising local election results.

But the Prime Minister suggested the results showed the UK is on course for a hung Parliament instead of a resounding Labour win, saying Sir Keir Starmer’s party may need to rely on smaller parties to form a government.

Speaking to the Times, he said: “These results suggest we are heading for a hung Parliament with Labour as the largest party.

“Keir Starmer propped up in Downing Street by the SNP, Liberal Democrats and the Greens would be a disaster for Britain.

“The country doesn’t need more political horse trading, but action. We are the only party that has a plan to deliver on the priorities of the people.”

His comments came after disastrous local election results, which saw the party come third behind the Liberal Democrats and lose nine out of 10 metro mayoral elections, including the West Midlands mayoral race.

Senior Tories from across the party have warned Mr Sunak he must significantly sharpen the Conservatives’ campaign strategy or risk being destroyed at the general election.

Former home secretary Suella Braverman has also urged the Prime Minister to change course rightwards to win back voters.

But she said a change of leadership was not a “feasible prospect”, adding: “There is no superman or superwoman out there who can do it.”

Among the measures Ms Braverman has urged the Prime Minister to adopt to win back voters are further tax cuts and a cap on legal migration.

Tory grandee Sir John Hayes signalled the Prime Minister should reshuffle his Cabinet, with his close ally Ms Braverman as a voice at the table for what he called the “authentic Tory part of the Conservative Party”.

But Conservative moderates warned against Mr Sunak lurching rightwards, with outgoing West Midlands mayor Andy Street claiming after his loss that “winning from that centre ground is what happens”.

Damian Green, chairman of the One Nation Group of Tory moderates, made a similar plea on the BBC’s Westminster Hour.

“I would just observe the seats that we have lost in the past few days – we lost to parties to the left of us. So I think suggesting that what we need to do is to move to the right is irrational in the face of the electorate,” he said.

Labour sought to dispel suggestions it would consider a coalition with the SNP after the next election.

Pat McFadden, the party’s national campaign co-ordinator, said: “Our aim is to win a majority, to govern, to meet the mood for change, and we’re not planning any alliances or pacts with anyone.”

The West Midlands result was a shock defeat for the Conservatives, with Lord Ben Houchen the sole remaining Tory mayor, in Tees Valley.

Labour dominated other mayoral contests across England, including in London and Greater Manchester, and took a Tory scalp by winning the Blackpool South by-election.

With the results of all 107 councils in England that held elections on May 2 declared, Labour has won 1,158 seats, an increase of more than 232.

The Liberal Democrats beat the Tories into second place, winning 552 seats, up nearly 100, a result hailed by party leader Sir Ed Davey as “stunning”.

The Tories are just behind on 515 seats, down nearly 400.

Additional reporting by the Press Association

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