Sunak under pressure after election drubbing

Rishi Sunak: Voters want Tories to ‘deliver for them’

Rishi Sunak is under pressure to deliver policy breakthroughs after a bruising week for the Tories.

The Conservatives lost 48 councils and more than 1,000 councillors were ousted in the local elections.

The torrent of defeats has heightened fears the party could lose the General Election expected next year.

Conservative chairman Greg Hands appealed for unity in a message to rank-and-file supporters: “If you want to stop Keir Starmer, then we have to come together now.”

Labour won control of councils including Swindon, Blackpool, Plymouth, Stoke-on-Trent and Medway.

Wins by euphoric Liberal Democrats included Stratford-on-Avon and Windsor and Maidenhead.

Tobias Ellwood, Conservative chairman of the defence committee, suggested the result could have been even worse if Boris Johnson was still PM.

But former Tory treasurer Lord Cruddas, widely seen as a key ally of Mr Johnson, said the poll results came in the wake of MPs “removing two sitting Prime Ministers and installing a leader rejected by the members”.

Exclusive polling lays bare the challenge facing Mr Sunak, with Labour more trusted on the crucial issue of the economy. The polling by Omnisis found Labour commands a 17 percent lead, with fewer than one in four people intending to vote Tory.

Labour is backed by 40 percent of respondents, ahead of the Conservatives (23 percent), the Lib Dems (six percent) and the Green Party and Reform UK (both on five percent).

Thirty-four percent approve of how Mr Sunak is handling his job. But when asked who would be the best PM, 36 percent said Sir Keir Starmer, with 31 percent naming Mr Sunak and a third saying they did not know.

The polling also suggests Labour is more trusted on the economy. When asked whom they trusted most in this area, 37 percent named Sir Keir and Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves.

Three out of 10 named Mr Sunak and Chancellor Jeremy Hunt.

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Former defence minister Sir Mike Penning urged fellow Tory MPs to “stop navel gazing about internal Conservative politics” and instead address the issues that “keep people awake at night”.

He was in no doubt that the public had sent the party a message, saying: “They wanted to give us a bloody nose. That always happens – take a look at Blair’s mid-terms.

“But at the same time it is a wake-up call to smell the coffee and do the job we were elected for.”

Mr Ellwood warned a lurch to the Right would be “political suicide”.

He said: “Some will exploit these results – demanding a return of right wing policies, a comeback for those removed, that will appeal little beyond our party base. We must be braver as a party in recognising how right wing populism contributed to the demise of our brand.”

Meanwhile, Liberal Democrats are delighted by their successes, even though the public is sceptical about the party making a comeback.

The Omnisis polling found fewer than one in five (18 percent) expected the Lib Dems to “re-emerge as a major political party”.

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