UK Elections: ‘Sorry’ Says Rishi Sunak As Tories Suffer Crushing Defeat Against Starmer's Labour Party - Vibes Of India

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UK Elections: ‘Sorry’ Says Rishi Sunak As Tories Suffer Crushing Defeat Against Starmer’s Labour Party

| Updated: July 5, 2024 10:20

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak conceded defeat in Britain’s general election, after the Labour Party won a landslide victory.

Labour has won the largest majority in the House of Commons since Tony Blair’s time in office.

“The Labour Party has won this general election and I have called Sir Keir Starmer to congratulate him on his victory,” Sunak said after winning his parliamentary seat in northern England.

“I am sorry. I take responsibility for the loss,” he added.

The scale of the predicted victory means Labour leader Keir Starmer looks certain to be appointed Britain’s 58th prime minister — ending 14 years of Conservative rule.

“People here and around the country have spoken and they’re ready for change, to end the politics of performance and return to politics as public service,” Starmer said as he won his constituency. “You have voted. It is now time for us to deliver.”

For the Tories, the result — though widely predicted — is crushing, a disastrous end to PM Rishi Sunak’s audacious snap election gambit. He is expected to resign in the coming hours.

Forecasts based on the official exit poll and early results predicted the Tories will collapse to just 154 MPs — the lowest total in the party’s illustrious history, beating its previous nadir of 156 back in 1906.

A Labour victory in the U.K. would buck the trend of center-left decline in many prosperous Western economies. Growing numbers of voters in countries including France, Italy and Germany have embraced the far-right at recent elections.

In France, the party of Marine Le Pen is one step away from taking power in parliamentary elections for the first time in the republic’s modern history in a vote this Sunday.

That trend was on show in the U.K., too, though not to the same extent as elsewhere in Europe.

Right-wing populist Nigel Farage won a seat in the House of Commons at the eighth attempt, with his upstart Reform party projected to win millions of votes.

The first high profile cabinet casualty of the night was Grant Shapps, the defense secretary, who lost his seat and effectively conceded his party’s national defeat. “It’s clear tonight that Britain will have a new government in the morning,” Shapps said.

He blamed his own party’s recent record of infighting for putting voters off. The public, he said, were sick of the “endless political soap opera” and the “internal rivalries and divisions” that warring Conservatives have played out in public.

“It’s not so much that Labour won this election, but rather that the Conservatives have lost it,” said Shapps, clearly shaken by his ousting.

Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt — widely considered a likely future leadership contender if she had held her seat — lost her Portsmouth seat an hour after Shapps.

“The Conservative Party has taken a battering because it failed to honour the trust that people had placed in it,” Mordaunt said.

By contrast the poll forecasts Labour to finish with 405 MPs — almost two-thirds of the 650 seats in the House of Commons — and a thumping majority of 160.

Such numbers would make Starmer the U.K.’s most powerful leader since Blair, with complete command of parliament and a second term beckoning in five years’ time.

Over the course of the six-week campaign, Starmer urged voters to give him their backing and “turn the page” on years of scandal, division and economic turmoil under former PMs Boris Johnson and Liz Truss.

Starmer was criticised for his pedestrian debating style and for giving few details of his plans for power. But none of those things seemed to matter: Just not being a Tory seemed to be enough for many voters, with pollsters identifying a widespread public mood for change.

Within Tory circles the blame game was already underway, with key figures blaming global crises like Covid-19 as well as Sunak and his ill-fated campaign.

In his acceptance speech, Farage hailed a “truly extraordinary” result and vowed to “build a mass national movement over the next few years” to challenge Labour for power at the next election, expected in 2029.

“Something very fundamental is happening,” Farage declared. “There is a massive gap in the centre-right of British politics and my job is to fill it.” He added: “This is just the first step of something that is going to stun all of you.”

In private Labour Party officials struggled to contain their glee, having witnessed their party suffer four miserable election defeats at the hands of the Tories since 2010.

“We are looking slightly incredulously at the SNP and Reform numbers,” said one. “But [we are] delighted and relieved. You don’t know paranoia like Labour members.”

Within Tory circles the blame game was already underway, with key figures blaming global crises like Covid-19 as well as Sunak and his ill-fated campaign.

“We’ve not really given enough thought to what the electorate wants,” one minister said. “Some of it is our own mismanagement.”

Others were far less charitable, pointing the finger squarely at key Sunak aides like Party Chair Richard Holden and Deputy PM Oliver Dowden.

“No two ways about it, it’s a catastrophic comedown even from the turn of the year,” a second Tory minister said. “Holden, Dowden and other over-promoted ex-[advisers] who steered us at full tilt into this iceberg should be exiled to Ascension … or somewhere a little more remote.”

Asked about his party’s future, Tory minister Steve Baker said there will “undoubtedly be recriminations, there will be shock, there will be anger, there will be denial.”

But some Tories were simply relieved the result was not even worse. Some pre-election polls suggested the party could effectively be wiped from the electoral map. “I had feared worse,” a third Tory minister admitted.

“It’s a disaster for the Tories — but it’s not the complete catastrophe that some were predicting,” said Tim Bale, professor of politics at Queen Mary University of London, and author of “The Conservative Party after Brexit.”

However, Keir Starmer’s Labour Party comes to power facing a daunting challenge, with a sluggish economy, creaking public services, and falling living standards – all factors which contributed to the Conservatives’ demise.

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