Tory chair Greg Hands braces party to lose more than a THOUSAND council seats in May 4 local elections – but says candidates are ‘fighting really hard’ and vows to focus on holding Red Wall
Tory chair Greg Hands today braced the party to lose more than a thousand seats in local elections next month.
In a grim warning, the Cabinet minister said that scale of disaster on May 4 was being anticipated by the ‘most credible’ experts.
However, he stressed that candidates are ‘fighting really hard’ despite dire national poll ratings, vowing to push resources into the Red Wall.
The main parties are already engaged in frantic expectation management as the ballot looms – with the results a key indicator ahead of the general election next year.
More than 8,000 council seats are up for grabs on May 4 across 230 local authorities, ranging from small rural councils to some of the largest towns and cities – though no elections are scheduled in London or Birmingham.
The last time they were contested the Tories performed relatively strongly against Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour, meaning they have more to defend.
Tory chair Greg Hands today braced the party to lose more than a thousand seats in local elections next month
An Opinium survey overnight had little solace for Mr Sunak as it had Keir Starmer’s party extending its advantage back to 14 points, having been trimmed to 11 points in equivalent research a week earlier
Mr Hands told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme: ‘The independent expectations are that the Conservatives will lose more than 1,000 seats and that Labour need to make big gains.’
Asked by stand-in host Trevor Phillips whether he might be moved on from his job if the results are dire, Mr Hands said: ‘Well let’s see Trevor, but what I would say is that those are the independent predictions from the most credible academic sources, that the Conservatives are likely to lose 1,000 seats.
‘I’m campaigning really hard, we’ve got some brilliant councillors, great candidates out there.’
Challenged that he was trying to manage expectations, Mr Hands said: ‘I’d say we are fighting really hard.’
Rishi Sunak could be spared an extended postmortem if the predicted meltdown does materialise, as the King’s coronation is immediately afterwards.
National polls have shown Labour consistently in a double-digit lead, although there has been evidence of a narrowing of the gap in recent weeks.
An Opinium survey overnight had little solace for Mr Sunak as it had Keir Starmer’s party extending its advantage back to 14 points, having been trimmed to 11 points in equivalent research a week earlier.
Adam Drummond, head of political and social research at Opinium, commented:
No elections are taking place in Scotland or Wales this year.
Local elections in Northern Ireland have been put back two weeks to May 18 to avoid a clash with the King’s coronation on May 6.
The local elections next month will be a crucial moment for the prospects of Rishi Sunak (left) and Keir Starmer (right)
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