Midlands mayor

Labour has claimed a shock victory in the West Midlands mayoral elections, beating Tory Andy Street.

Labour’s Richard Parker beat him by 1,508 votes to become Mayor in an extremely close contest.

It means Mr Street will be denied his third term, in a major blow for Rishi Sunak after a disasterous local elections.

Speaking after his loss, the former John Lewis boss paid tribute to what he believes is important about his role.

He said: ‘Most importantly my thanks of course go to everybody who voted for me on Thursday and for the trust that they showed in me. 

‘That’s perhaps the most important word in politics of all.’

He continued: ‘It has been my honour to lead you for the last seven years. I hope I have done it with dignity and integrity.’

Labour's Richard Parker speaks as he is elected as the new Mayor of West Midlands

Labour’s Richard Parker speaks as he is elected as the new Mayor of West Midlands

It means Mr Street (pictured) will be denied his third term, in a major blow for Rishi Sunak after a disasterous local elections

It means Mr Street (pictured) will be denied his third term, in a major blow for Rishi Sunak after a disasterous local elections

Defeated Conservative Andy Street (left) listens to Labour's Richard Parker speaking as he is elected as the new Mayor of West Midlands

Defeated Conservative Andy Street (left) listens to Labour’s Richard Parker speaking as he is elected as the new Mayor of West Midlands

A tearful Richard Parker started his victory speech by leading applause to Andy Street, as said he deserved ‘great credit’ for his work.

He said: ‘Thank you to Andy – you have led this region through a number of great challenges and you deserve great credit for that. 

‘Whilst our politics are different we both have the best interests of the West Midlands at heart. ‘

He continued: ‘This is the most important thing that I will ever do

‘They recognised that a Labour mayor can make a positive difference in this region. You have put your trust in me and I will repay that trust.

‘We will give this region the fresh start it richly deserves. I will stand up for all our councils in the face of unprecedented Tory cuts.

‘It shows that people are calling for Labour and calling for change.’

In a written statement following the victory, Sir Keir Starmer said: ‘This phenomenal result was beyond our expectations. People across the country have had enough of Conservative chaos and decline and voted for change with Labour.

‘Our fantastic new mayor Richard Parker stands ready to deliver a fresh start for the West Midlands.

There were cheers and whoops as the declaration came that the Tory incumbent had been defeated by Labour rival Richard Parker (pictured) after an extraordinary struggle that saw a series of recounts

There were cheers and whoops as the declaration came that the Tory incumbent had been defeated by Labour rival Richard Parker (pictured) after an extraordinary struggle that saw a series of recounts

Andy Street dramatically lost the West Midlands mayor battle tonight in a body blow for Rishi Sunak

Andy Street dramatically lost the West Midlands mayor battle tonight in a body blow for Rishi Sunak

‘My changed Labour Party is back in the service of working people, and stands ready to govern. Labour will turn the page after 14 years of Tory decline and usher in a decade of national renewal. That change starts today.’

Mr Parker appeared to be all smiles with party members and supporters in Birmingham, where the result was set to be formally announced. 

Mr Parker posed for photographs while smiling with supporters close to the podium where the winner will be announced, but then declined to smile when asked to pose for the media, saying he was ‘nervously waiting’ for the result.

Former West Midlands mayoral candidate and MP for Birmingham’s Hodge Hill, Liam Byrne, posted a picture on social media of himself and Mr Parker smiling with their arms raised in an apparent celebration.

Senior Labour sources suggested that there are as little as 1,000 votes in the victory in the run up to the declaration, the BBC reported.

And Labour’s deputy national campaign co-ordinator and Lewisham MP Ellie Reeves posted on X: ‘Congratulations @RichParkerLab. An incredible result and significant victory.

‘Right across the country people have voted for change and the message is clear… It’s time for a General Election and a Labour govt to get our country’s future back.’

Both sides warned the race was ‘too close to call’, with the result – initially due around 3pm – finally expected to come this evening. 

Partial recounts were already happening in Birmingham and Wolverhampton, but Coventry was re-tallied in full as the parties wrangled over every single vote. 

Mr Sunak was hoping Mr Street would join Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen in securing a third term, demonstrating that the party can still win big contests.

Former West Midlands mayoral candidate and MP for Birmingham's Hodge Hill, Liam Byrne, posted a picture on social media of himself and Mr Parker smiling with their arms raised in an apparent celebration

Former West Midlands mayoral candidate and MP for Birmingham’s Hodge Hill, Liam Byrne, posted a picture on social media of himself and Mr Parker smiling with their arms raised in an apparent celebration

Andy Street

Richard Parker

Mr Sunak is willing Andy Street (pictured) to join Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen in securing a third term this afternoon, with the outcome against Richard Parker (right) thought to be on a knife edge

Putting a brave face on grim election results, Rishi Sunak admitted that voters are 'frustrated' but argued that Keir Starmer has not sealed the deal

Putting a brave face on grim election results, Rishi Sunak admitted that voters are ‘frustrated’ but argued that Keir Starmer has not sealed the deal

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England Mayoral

London Assembly

London Mayoral

Police & Crime

Lord Houchen’s success seemingly helped Mr Sunak quell a fresh coup bid from rebels, most of whom who have now conceded the leader will not change before the general election. 

But it is feared another defeat could infame anger, with the broader picture for the Conservatives having been relentlessly grim. It is likely to end up losing 500 councillors in one of the worst showings for 40 years. 

For the first time since 1996, the Lib Dems have won more councillors than the Conservatives at a round of local elections. 

Speaking about the West Midlands result, political scientist Sir John Curtice told the BBC: ‘It is a testament to Andy Street’s personal popularity that albeit he may have lost narrowly – the fact that he has run Labour so close I think he can take quite some considerable credit for.

‘Because we know that in the parallel Police and Commissioner election the Conservatives were quite some way behind.’

Labour candidate Simon Foster won the vote to become West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner ahead of the declaration for West Midlands Mayor earlier today.

He won by nearly 100,000 votes ahead of his Conservative rival. saying: ‘The only honour and privilege greater than being elected by our fellow citizens is to be re-elected by your fellow citizens.’

Birmingham Labour MP Jess Phillips said that her party’s delay in calling for a Gaza ceasefire cost them votes in the West Midlands, before the result was declared.

It comes after Independent candidate Akhmed Yakoob won third place in the Birmingham result after campaigning on Palestine.

A former frontbencher, Phillips broke ranks and quit to vote in favour of an SNP-led demand for an ‘immediate ceasefire’ in the Middle East last November.

‘I’d be lying if I said if I said this hasn’t been an issue that hurt the Labour party in this election,’ she told the BBC.

‘This is a political issue that the people here care about.’

The Blackpool South by-election caused particular consternation as Labour stormed the seat with a 26 point swing – and the Tories only barely scraped into second ahead of Reform.

And Sadiq Khan comfortably sailed to victory against Conservative candidate Susan Hall – securing a historic third term as London Mayor.

He celebrated his ‘increased margin of victory’ on the previous election after he received 1,088,225 votes, a majority of nearly 276,000 over Ms Hall, who secured 812,397 votes.

And he slammed the ‘non-stop negativity’ of the campaigning against him after a divisive race. He used his victory speech to apologise to his family for the ‘threats’ they had received and ‘protests by our home’.

But it was not all plain sailing for Sir Keir though, with experts warning that a slump in support in areas with large Muslim populations suggested he was ‘in trouble’. 

Birmingham Labour MP Jess Phillips said that her party's delay in calling for a Gaza ceasefire cost them votes in the West Midlands, before the result was declared

Birmingham Labour MP Jess Phillips said that her party’s delay in calling for a Gaza ceasefire cost them votes in the West Midlands, before the result was declared

Independent candidate Akhmed Yakoob won third place in the Birmingham result after campaigning on Palestine

Independent candidate Akhmed Yakoob won third place in the Birmingham result after campaigning on Palestine

Labour candidate Simon Foster reacts after winning the vote to become West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner ahead of the declaration for West Midlands Mayor

Labour candidate Simon Foster reacts after winning the vote to become West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner ahead of the declaration for West Midlands Mayor

He won by nearly 100,000 votes ahead of his Conservative rival. saying: 'The only honour and privilege greater than being elected by our fellow citizens is to be re-elected by your fellow citizens'

He won by nearly 100,000 votes ahead of his Conservative rival. saying: ‘The only honour and privilege greater than being elected by our fellow citizens is to be re-elected by your fellow citizens’

Labour tied up more expected victories today, with Steve Rotheram re-elected as Liverpool City Region Mayor after securing a landslide 68 per cent of the vote.

Andy Burnham emerged victorious in Greater Manchester by 63 per cent to just 10 per cent for his Tory opponent.  

Oliver Coppard was returned as as South Yorkshire Mayor with 138,611 votes, nearly three times as many as the 44,945 his Conservative rival Nick Allen received. 

Earlier, Mr Sunak insisted he can still turn the situation around, saying people are ‘frustrated and wondering why they should vote’. 

‘The fact Labour is not winning in places that they admit themselves they need for a majority, shows that Keir Starmer‘s lack of plan and vision is hurting them,’ he said.

‘We Conservatives have everything to fight for – and we will because we are fighting for our values and our country’s future.’

Mr Sunak pointed to his party’s recent commitment to hike defence spending and cut migration as clear dividing lines with Labour.

But polling guru Prof John Curtice said the results demonstrated Mr Sunak has ‘very little to show’ for his efforts to restore the Tories’ fortunes after Liz Truss’s abrtive premiership.

The election expert told the BBC: ‘There is nothing in these results to suggest contrary to the opinion polls that the Conservatives are actually beginning to narrow the gap on Labour, and that so far at least, Rishi Sunak’s project which has tried to recover from the disaster – from the Conservatives’ point of view – of the Liz Truss fiscal event, that project has still got very little to show for it.

‘That in a sense is the big takeaway.

‘Now the Conservatives, as when all parties do badly in elections, they always want you to focus on the exception rather than the rule, and Tees Valley and probably the West Midlands are the exceptions not the rule.’

On Labour losses over its stance on Gaza, Sir John said: ‘At the moment I think what we would find if we had a general election is that Labour might well fall back in some of these seats, but because the Labour Party is already so strong, they would probably still succeed in winning the parliamentary election.

‘But yep, this is a big message to Labour from these local elections, is that you are indeed now in trouble with some of your Muslim former supporters.’

On a visit to Mansfield this morning, Keir Starmer (pictured with new East Midlands mayor Claire Ward) insisted he is 'confident' that Mr Khan can keep control of City Hall

On a visit to Mansfield this morning, Keir Starmer (pictured with new East Midlands mayor Claire Ward) insisted he is ‘confident’ that Mr Khan can keep control of City Hall

Mr Sunak suffered a blow in his own back yard as Labour took the York and North Yorkshire mayor post.

The region, which covers the PM’s Richmond constituency, is somewhere Labour has historically struggled to compete in parliamentary elections.

Labour also won inaugural mayoral contests in the East Midlands and the North East, and gained nine police and crime commissioner posts from the Tories, including in Cumbria, Avon and Somerset, and Norfolk.

But in a smattering of councils, the Opposition party lost seats to independents and George Galloway’s Workers Party of Britain, all apparently over the party’s stance on Gaza.

Overall, Labour won control of eight councils as it saw a net gain of 204 seats, while the Liberal Democrats gained 92 seats and the Greens 58.

The Liberal Democrats’ most significant victory was winning control of Dorset council from the Conservatives, where it now has 42 of the 82 seats after gaining 15.

The Greens fell narrowly short of taking overall control of Bristol, one of their top targets, despite gaining 10 seats.

Despite results that left the Conservatives on track to lose half the seats they contested, rebels admitted they had not persuaded enough MPs to join them to force a vote of no confidence in Mr Sunak’s leadership.

One rebel told the Mail simply: ‘We’re off to the pub.’

Polls ahead of the election correctly suggested that the London incumbent was on track for a comfortable victory over Tory rival Susan Hall (pictured)

Polls ahead of the election correctly suggested that the London incumbent was on track for a comfortable victory over Tory rival Susan Hall (pictured)

Dame Andrea Jenkyns, the first Tory MP to publicly move against the PM, said it was ‘unlikely’ that others would follow in sufficient numbers to trigger a leadership contest.

‘My stance is the same,’ she said. ‘But we are where we are and it is looking unlikely that the MPs are going to put the letters in, so we need to pull together.’

Former Cabinet minister Nadine Dorries – another high-profile critic of the PM – said it would be ‘madness’ to try to replace Mr Sunak before the general election, adding that it would ‘make no difference’ to the result.

One rebel source said it was clear that Mr Sunak would ‘limp on to the election’, adding: ‘We’re not kamikaze pilots. In the end, there are too many MPs with their heads stuck in the sand for it to work.’



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