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Braverman tells Sunak to ‘own’ dismal election results and ‘fix it’ but says it’s too late for Tories to change leader– UK politics live | Politics


Braverman says Sunak needs to ‘own’ responsibility for election results

In her interview with the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg, Suella Braverman, the former home secretary, also said that Rishi Sunak needed to “own” responsibility for the local election results. She said:

Rishi Sunak has been leading us for about 18 months, he has been making these decisions, these are consequences of those decisions. He needs to own this, and therefore he needs to fix it.

She also claimed Tory voters were “on strike”.

I think the problem is that our voters are on strike, they are not coming out to support us, we have seen that with turnouts and we have seen that with losing Conservative strongholds.

(If Conservative voters were public sector workers, the government would be able to use its Strikes (Minimum Services Levels) Act to require some of them to show up. Unfortunately this is not an option for Sunak.)

In her interview Braverman said Sunak should respond to the results with policies like tax cuts and a cap on legal migration.

Asked for evidence that a shift to the right would help the party, Braverman replied:

The evidence is that people are not voting for what [Sunak] is doing because they don’t believe that we are serious about some of these issues.

Asked if she regretted supporting Sunak for the Tory leadership in 2022, Braverman replied: “Honestly, yes I do.”

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Pat McFadden, Labour’s national campaign coordinator, has played down the significance of the Sky News projection suggesting that results like the ones from these elections would not deliver a majority for Labour at a general election. (See 9.09am.)

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Asked on Times Radio about those figures, he said:

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On national equivalent vote share, what we look at is the map, and the key seats. And, on the evidence of the results at the weekend, we are winning in those key parliamentary seats that will be decisive at the next election.

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You can boost your national vote share by piling up votes in places that you already hold, or standing loads of paper candidates in places that you’ll never win.

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For us, it’s about the key map of the places that will decide the next general election. And on that score we’re doing very well.

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And of course there were no local elections in Scotland either, which is something left out of that.

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McFadden, Labour’s national campaign coordinator, doing an interview this morning.”,”caption”:”Pat McFadden, Labour’s national campaign coordinator, doing an interview this morning.”,”credit”:”Photograph: Victoria Jones/PA”}}],”attributes”:{“pinned”:false,”keyEvent”:true,”summary”:false},”blockCreatedOn”:1714902448000,”blockCreatedOnDisplay”:”05.47 EDT”,”blockLastUpdated”:1714902943000,”blockLastUpdatedDisplay”:”05.55 EDT”,”blockFirstPublished”:1714902943000,”blockFirstPublishedDisplay”:”05.55 EDT”,”blockFirstPublishedDisplayNoTimezone”:”05.55″,”title”:”Labour plays down significance of projection claiming party not on course to gain majority at general election”,”contributors”:[],”primaryDateLine”:”Sun 5 May 2024 06.28 EDT”,”secondaryDateLine”:”First published on Sun 5 May 2024 02.55 EDT”},{“id”:”663750e88f08cb3df581a5cf”,”elements”:[{“_type”:”model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement”,”html”:”

In his interview with the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg, Mark Harper, the transport secretary, rejected suggestions that the government’s decision to cancel the second leg of HS2, from Birmingham to Manchester, contributed to Andy Street losing the West Midlands mayoralty. Harper said the West Midlands had benefited because money saved from scrapping HS2 was being spent on other transport projects in the region.

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Street strongly opposed the decision to axe the second phase of HS2. But, in an interview on Sky News last night, he did not accept that this played a significant role in his defeat. He said voters liked the fact that he was standing up to No 10 on this issue. He explained:

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Many people have said to me, when you stood up to the prime minister [on HS2], then it actually showed [you are] our independent mayor. So … there was great disappointment in the West Midlands at that decision. There was actually some admiration for how I dealt with it. So, net, I don’t think that had a huge impact.

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Harper on the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg show this morning.”,”caption”:”Mark Harper on the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg show this morning.”,”credit”:”Photograph: Jeff Overs/BBC/PA”}}],”attributes”:{“pinned”:false,”keyEvent”:true,”summary”:false},”blockCreatedOn”:1714901224000,”blockCreatedOnDisplay”:”05.27 EDT”,”blockLastUpdated”:1714902122000,”blockLastUpdatedDisplay”:”05.42 EDT”,”blockFirstPublished”:1714902122000,”blockFirstPublishedDisplay”:”05.42 EDT”,”blockFirstPublishedDisplayNoTimezone”:”05.42″,”title”:”Harper rejects suggestion cancellation of phase 2 of HS2 contributed to Andy Street’s defeat in West Midlands”,”contributors”:[],”primaryDateLine”:”Sun 5 May 2024 06.28 EDT”,”secondaryDateLine”:”First published on Sun 5 May 2024 02.55 EDT”},{“id”:”66374ea08f080b5e6ba9311a”,”elements”:[{“_type”:”model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement”,”html”:”

In her interview with the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg, Suella Braverman, the former home secretary, also said that Rishi Sunak needed to “own” responsibility for the local election results. She said:

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Rishi Sunak has been leading us for about 18 months, he has been making these decisions, these are consequences of those decisions. He needs to own this, and therefore he needs to fix it.

\n

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She also claimed Tory voters were “on strike”.

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I think the problem is that our voters are on strike, they are not coming out to support us, we have seen that with turnouts and we have seen that with losing Conservative strongholds.

\n

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(If Conservative voters were public sector workers, the government would be able to use its Strikes (Minimum Services Levels) Act to require some of them to show up. Unfortunately this is not an option for Sunak.)

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In her interview Braverman said Sunak should respond to the results with policies like tax cuts and a cap on legal migration.

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Asked for evidence that a shift to the right would help the party, Braverman replied:

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The evidence is that people are not voting for what [Sunak] is doing because they don’t believe that we are serious about some of these issues.

\n

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Asked if she regretted supporting Sunak for the Tory leadership in 2022, Braverman replied: “Honestly, yes I do.”

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Back on Sky News, Dame Andrea Jenkyns, the Tory rightwing and outspoken critic of Rishi Sunak, says she wants to see Boris Johnson return to frontline politics. That could involve Johnson getting a seat, or just him being at the centre of the election campaign.

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Asked if that is realistic, she says that she has not spoken to Johnson but that she’s an optimist.

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Asked what else she would like Sunak to do, she says the party should be “really strong” on illegal migration and propose a referendum on withdrawal from the European convention on human rights.

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UPDATE: Jenkyns said:

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I would like to see the return of Boris on the front line of politics, whether that’s going for a seat in the next election and being front and centre of our election campaign …

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He’s still got a pull and he’s still got a pull in my area, still on the doorstep. People say to me that they’re saddened that Boris is no longer on the front line of politics.

\n

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And, on what else Sunak should do, she said:

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\n

We need to be really strong [on] illegal migration, we’ve got to get these flights off to Rwanda, I think we should have it as a manifesto commitment to come out of the ECHR, I think we need a referendum on that, because then the civil service cannot stop us trying to enact what we were elected to do.

\n

I think [Sunak] is staring down the barrel of the gun isn’t he, as every Conservative is – we’ve got to wake up and smell the coffee, we’ve got to actually start delivering true conservative values. I think he might listen a little bit.

\n

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Earlier Suella Braverman, the former home secretary, told BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg that she was in despair at the election results and that it would be impossible for a new leader to revive Tory fortune. She said:

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The plan is not working and I despair at these terrible results.

\n

There is no spinning these results, there is no disguising the fact that these have been terrible election results for the Conservatives and they suggest that we are heading to a Labour government and that fills me with horror.

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I love my country, I care about my party and I want us to win, and I am urging the prime minister to change course, to with humility reflect on what voters are telling us, and change the plan and the way that he is communicating and leading us.

\n

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Asked if she wanted a new leader, she replied:

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\n

I just don’t think that is a feasible prospect right now, we don’t have enough time and it is impossible for anyone new to come and change our fortunes to be honest. There is no superman or superwoman out there who can do it.

\n

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On Friday Sky News published its Commons seat projection, based on what would happen if everyone voted in a general election as they had voted on Thursday. It did so on the basis of its assessment that Labour had 35% of the vote, the Conservatives 26%, and the Lib Dems 16%.

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The BBC produces its own version of this figure. Prof Sir John Curtice is the psephologist in charge of the BBC calculation, which is called the projected national share (PNS), and he announced his PNS figures on Friday. He had Labour on 34%, the Conservatives on 25%, and the Lib Dems on 17%.

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Prof Michael Thrasher produces the calculation for Sky. His version of the PNS is called the national equivalent vote (NEV) and on Sky News a few minutes ago he produced his final NEV figure. The numbers have changed a bit since Friday, because at that point not all the votes had been counted. The final figures are:

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Labour: 34%

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Conservatives: 27%

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Liberal Democrats: 16%

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Others: 23%

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It is impossible to say which is “right”, the PNS figure or the NEV figure. They are both estimates of what would have happened if everyone in Britain had voted on Thursday, and they didn’t, because elections only took place in some areas.

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Equivalent Vote figures”,”caption”:”National Equivalent Vote figures”,”credit”:”Photograph: Sky News”}}],”attributes”:{“pinned”:false,”keyEvent”:true,”summary”:false},”blockCreatedOn”:1714895626000,”blockCreatedOnDisplay”:”03.53 EDT”,”blockLastUpdated”:1714897335000,”blockLastUpdatedDisplay”:”04.22 EDT”,”blockFirstPublished”:1714896580000,”blockFirstPublishedDisplay”:”04.09 EDT”,”blockFirstPublishedDisplayNoTimezone”:”04.09″,”title”:”Sky says final figures suggest Labour had 34% of national equivalent vote in local elections, Tories 27% and Lib Dems 16%”,”contributors”:[],”primaryDateLine”:”Sun 5 May 2024 06.28 EDT”,”secondaryDateLine”:”First published on Sun 5 May 2024 02.55 EDT”},{“id”:”663739738f080b5e6ba930b4″,”elements”:[{“_type”:”model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement”,”html”:”

This is what Mark Harper said when he was discussing the Sky News projection suggesting the local election results do not point to Labour getting an overall majority in a general election. (See 8.40am.) He said it showed there was “everything to fight for”.

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What that shows for me is very clear. The polls are not correct. There’s everything to fight for. And the Conservative party under the prime minister’s leadership is absolutely up for that fight.

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These were disappointing results but the point is what they demonstrate from that scenario is that Labour is not on course for that majority, Keir Starmer hasn’t sealed the deal with the public.

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Andy Street, the former West Midlands mayor, and Suella Braverman, the former home secretary, don’t agree on much, but they are both advising against trying to replace Rishi Sunak before the election.

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In his Sky News interview after his defeat last night, asked what his message would be to Tory MPs tempted to trigger a vote of no confidence in Sunak, Street replied:

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I would not advise that … It’s all about delivery. We don’t need another period where we are debating leadership. [That] could not be clearer in my mind.

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And in her Sunday Telegraph article Braverman said:

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Let me cut to the chase so no one wastes time overanalysing this: we must not change our leader. Changing leader now won’t work: the time to do so came and went. The hole to dig us out is the PM’s, and it’s time for him to start shovelling.

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Braverman’s final sentence does not make sense. The best political advice on this subject comes from Denis Healey, who is credited with the saying: “When you are in a hole, stop digging.”

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What Braverman is trying to say is that it is up to Rishi Sunak to sort out the party’s problems. She also advises how it should be done. (See 7.55am.) But she has garbled the metaphor. If you are in a hole, you get out by climbing, not digging.

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Braverman.”,”caption”:”Suella Braverman.”,”credit”:”Photograph: Tayfun Salcı/ZUMA Press Wire/REX/Shutterstock”}}],”attributes”:{“pinned”:false,”keyEvent”:true,”summary”:false},”blockCreatedOn”:1714892628000,”blockCreatedOnDisplay”:”03.03 EDT”,”blockLastUpdated”:1714894257000,”blockLastUpdatedDisplay”:”03.30 EDT”,”blockFirstPublished”:1714893455000,”blockFirstPublishedDisplay”:”03.17 EDT”,”blockFirstPublishedDisplayNoTimezone”:”03.17″,”title”:”Braverman says it’s too late for Tories to change leader before election”,”contributors”:[],”primaryDateLine”:”Sun 5 May 2024 06.28 EDT”,”secondaryDateLine”:”First published on Sun 5 May 2024 02.55 EDT”},{“id”:”6637221d8f08cb3df581a50b”,”elements”:[{“_type”:”model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement”,”html”:”

Good morning. The local elections are over, all but three results (one council, and two police and crime commissioner posts) are now in, and they have been just about as dire for Rishi Sunak and the Conservatives as the national opinion poll figures implied they would be. On the plus side for Sunak, the rebels in his party who were hoping that terrible results would provide the springboard for a no confidence motion seem to have accepted that they don’t have the numbers, and the notional “coup” has been called off. But that won’t stop Tory MPs being pitched into a difficult debate about their future, and last night Andy Street made a defiant intervention, telling his party not to drift to the right.

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Street had been expected to hold on as mayor of the West Midlands. He was defeated by Labour by just 1,508 votes, and in an interview with Sky News afterwards he said the message for his party from his campaign was that it should not give up on moderate conservatism. He said:

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The thing everyone should take from Birmingham and the West Midlands tonight is this brand of moderative, inclusive, tolerant conservatism, that gets on and delivered, has come within an ace of beating the Labour party in what they considered to be their backyard – that’s the message from here tonight.

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Asked if he was worried about the Tories drifting to the right, he replied:

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I would definitely not advise that drift.

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The psychology here is really very straightforward isn’t it: this is the youngest, most diverse, one of the most urban places in Britain and we’ve done, many would say, extremely well over a consistent period.

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The message is clear: winning from that centre ground is what happens.

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In an article published in the Sunday Telegraph today, Suella Braverman, the former home secretary, advocates the opposite approach. She says:

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The public are not rushing to vote for Sir Keir, though they feel sorely let down by us. They want a reason to vote Conservative, but we are failing to provide them with one. We need to be frank about this if we are to have any chance of fixing the problem.

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On tax, migration, the small boats and law and order, we need to demonstrate strong leadership, not managerialism. Make a big and bold offer on tax cuts, rather than tweaking as we saw in the Budget. Place a cap on legal migration once and for all. Leave the ECHR to stop the boats. Tangible improvement to our NHS and tougher sentences for criminals. Start holding failing police chiefs to account so that antisocial behaviour, shoplifting and knife crime are actually sorted out. Take back control of our streets from the extremists. And instead of paying lip service in guidance on transgender ideology in schools, let’s actually change the law to ban the abuse of our children.

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In essence, this is the outline of a debate likely to consume the Conservative party for months and years ahead.

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Today I will be covering further reaction to the election results. Mark Harper, the transport secretary, and Pat McFadden, Labour’s national campaign coordinator, are the main voice for the government and the oppostion on the political programmes this morning, but Sky News also has an interview with Dame Andrea Jenkyns, one of the only two Tories MPs on record as saying Sunak should resign. I’ll also be looking at what the Sunday papers are saying.

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If you want to contact me, do use the “send us a message” feature. You’ll see it just below the byline – on the left of the screen, if you are reading on a laptop or a desktop. This is for people who want to message me directly. I find it very useful when people message to point out errors (even typos – no mistake is too small to correct). Often I find your questions very interesting, too. I can’t promise to reply to them all, but I will try to reply to as many as I can, either in the comments below the line; privately (if you leave an email address and that seems more appropriate); or in the main blog, if I think it is a topic of wide interest.

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Key events

In his big read on the local elections in the Sunday Times, Tim Shipman has more details on the Labour argument that it can win a Westminster majority with a smaller lead over the Tories in national vote share than it had before the 1997 election because its vote is now more effectively distributed (See 10.55am.) Shipman writes:

Provisional analysis by Labour’s data team shows that their share of the vote is now much more efficiently distributed than under Corbyn, when the party tended to stack up votes in places where it was already strong rather than in marginal constituencies. “We were poor at putting together coalitions to win,” a Labour source said. “In 2019 if we had beaten the Tories by 12 per cent we would have got a majority of one, because of where our votes were. One of the key things we wanted to achieve when Keir became leader was to change that.

“We thought we could change that with two types of voters: one is non-graduate voters in England; two is in Scotland. We think this week’s results show we’ve got the breadth of support to win across the country. Because of voter efficiency, the winning line is no longer a 12-point lead, it is much lower.”

Pat McFadden, Labour’s national campaign coordinator, told Sky News this morning that he could not see Labour forming some sort of alliance with the SNP at Westminster if it failed to win an outright majority. Asked if he could imagine the two parties working together in those circumstances, McFadden replied:

No. 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.

Asked if he would rule out cooperation with the SNP, McFadden did not entirely rule it out, but he said Labour was not planning for that. He replied:

You can put it to me from now until Christmas and my answer will be the same. We’re going to aim for a majority government, we’re going to meet that mood for change, we’re not planning on any pacts or alliances with anyone and I think – after the results of the last few days – we go into that fight with no complacency, but with a belief and confidence that we’ve seen in the votes that were cast a few days ago.

Labour plays down significance of projection claiming party not on course to gain majority at general election

Pat McFadden, Labour’s national campaign coordinator, has played down the significance of the Sky News projection suggesting that results like the ones from these elections would not deliver a majority for Labour at a general election. (See 9.09am.)

Asked on Times Radio about those figures, he said:

On national equivalent vote share, what we look at is the map, and the key seats. And, on the evidence of the results at the weekend, we are winning in those key parliamentary seats that will be decisive at the next election.

You can boost your national vote share by piling up votes in places that you already hold, or standing loads of paper candidates in places that you’ll never win.

For us, it’s about the key map of the places that will decide the next general election. And on that score we’re doing very well.

And of course there were no local elections in Scotland either, which is something left out of that.

Pat McFadden, Labour’s national campaign coordinator, doing an interview this morning. Photograph: Victoria Jones/PA

Harper rejects suggestion cancellation of phase 2 of HS2 contributed to Andy Street’s defeat in West Midlands

In his interview with the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg, Mark Harper, the transport secretary, rejected suggestions that the government’s decision to cancel the second leg of HS2, from Birmingham to Manchester, contributed to Andy Street losing the West Midlands mayoralty. Harper said the West Midlands had benefited because money saved from scrapping HS2 was being spent on other transport projects in the region.

Street strongly opposed the decision to axe the second phase of HS2. But, in an interview on Sky News last night, he did not accept that this played a significant role in his defeat. He said voters liked the fact that he was standing up to No 10 on this issue. He explained:

Many people have said to me, when you stood up to the prime minister [on HS2], then it actually showed [you are] our independent mayor. So … there was great disappointment in the West Midlands at that decision. There was actually some admiration for how I dealt with it. So, net, I don’t think that had a huge impact.

Mark Harper on the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg show this morning. Photograph: Jeff Overs/BBC/PA

Braverman says Sunak needs to ‘own’ responsibility for election results

In her interview with the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg, Suella Braverman, the former home secretary, also said that Rishi Sunak needed to “own” responsibility for the local election results. She said:

Rishi Sunak has been leading us for about 18 months, he has been making these decisions, these are consequences of those decisions. He needs to own this, and therefore he needs to fix it.

She also claimed Tory voters were “on strike”.

I think the problem is that our voters are on strike, they are not coming out to support us, we have seen that with turnouts and we have seen that with losing Conservative strongholds.

(If Conservative voters were public sector workers, the government would be able to use its Strikes (Minimum Services Levels) Act to require some of them to show up. Unfortunately this is not an option for Sunak.)

In her interview Braverman said Sunak should respond to the results with policies like tax cuts and a cap on legal migration.

Asked for evidence that a shift to the right would help the party, Braverman replied:

The evidence is that people are not voting for what [Sunak] is doing because they don’t believe that we are serious about some of these issues.

Asked if she regretted supporting Sunak for the Tory leadership in 2022, Braverman replied: “Honestly, yes I do.”

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Several readers have been asking this question.

Given that the counting is now (almost) done, any chance of a quick explanation of why your seat loss/gain numbers and the BBC’s are so different?

We use the figures provided by PA Media, and they measure losses and gains by comparing the results to the council seat numbers just before the elections took place. The BBC compares them to the seat numbers from 2021, when most of these seats were last contested. So seats the Tories lost over the last three years (in byelections and defections) are included in the BBC figures, but not in ours.

Tory MP Andrea Jenkyns says Sunak is ‘staring down barrel of gun’ and needs to deliver on ‘true conservative values’

Back on Sky News, Dame Andrea Jenkyns, the Tory rightwing and outspoken critic of Rishi Sunak, says she wants to see Boris Johnson return to frontline politics. That could involve Johnson getting a seat, or just him being at the centre of the election campaign.

Asked if that is realistic, she says that she has not spoken to Johnson but that she’s an optimist.

Asked what else she would like Sunak to do, she says the party should be “really strong” on illegal migration and propose a referendum on withdrawal from the European convention on human rights.

UPDATE: Jenkyns said:

I would like to see the return of Boris on the front line of politics, whether that’s going for a seat in the next election and being front and centre of our election campaign …

He’s still got a pull and he’s still got a pull in my area, still on the doorstep. People say to me that they’re saddened that Boris is no longer on the front line of politics.

And, on what else Sunak should do, she said:

We need to be really strong [on] illegal migration, we’ve got to get these flights off to Rwanda, I think we should have it as a manifesto commitment to come out of the ECHR, I think we need a referendum on that, because then the civil service cannot stop us trying to enact what we were elected to do.

I think [Sunak] is staring down the barrel of the gun isn’t he, as every Conservative is – we’ve got to wake up and smell the coffee, we’ve got to actually start delivering true conservative values. I think he might listen a little bit.

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Asked if Labour would continue with the Rwanda deportation scheme, if it is up and running at the time of the general election, McFadden says Labour does not want it to continue. He says Labour wants to use the money for other purposes, like cracking down on people smuggling.

Pressed to say if Labour would abandon it “on day one” in government, McFadden does not give that commitment – he says he is not certain what will happen on day one – but he again makes the point that Labour does not want it to continue.

Q: Will Labour bring people back from deportation if they have already been sent there?

McFadden says Labour is not planning that. He says that, under the government’s plans, there are provisions anyway that allow migrants from Rwanda to come to the UK.

Q: Do you think you have sealed the deal? You are not as far ahead on national share of the vote as you were in 1996.

McFadden says in 1996 it did not feel like they were cruising to inevitable victory.

He says there is more confidence in the party now. People can see that Labour has changed, and it has rebuilt trust, he says. But he stresses that not a single vote in the general election has yet been cast.

Pat McFadden, Labour’s national campaign coordinator, is being interviewed on the BBC.

Asked if he accepts that Labour’s position on Gaza cost the part vote, McFadden accepts it was a factor in places like Oldham. But he says there were also some other factors at play in Oldham that contributed to the result there.

Labour lost seven seats in Oldham, losing the council to no overall control.

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Braverman says it would be impossible for alternative leader to revive Tory fortunes before general election

Earlier Suella Braverman, the former home secretary, told BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg that she was in despair at the election results and that it would be impossible for a new leader to revive Tory fortune. She said:

The plan is not working and I despair at these terrible results.

There is no spinning these results, there is no disguising the fact that these have been terrible election results for the Conservatives and they suggest that we are heading to a Labour government and that fills me with horror.

I love my country, I care about my party and I want us to win, and I am urging the prime minister to change course, to with humility reflect on what voters are telling us, and change the plan and the way that he is communicating and leading us.

Asked if she wanted a new leader, she replied:

I just don’t think that is a feasible prospect right now, we don’t have enough time and it is impossible for anyone new to come and change our fortunes to be honest. There is no superman or superwoman out there who can do it.



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