UK

Labour fail to make big gains in England – but snatch key London councils from Tories

The Conservatives have lost former leader Margaret Thatcher’s ‘favourite council’ Wandsworth to Labour in a significant boost for Sir Keir Starmer’s party.

The south London council had been held by the Conservatives for more than forty years, turning blue in 1978 just before Mrs Thatcher’s election as prime minister.

A Labour source said: “Boris Johnson losing Wandsworth is monumental. This was the Tories’ jewel in the crown.

“Voters in Wandsworth have put their trust in the change Keir Starmer’s Labour represents.”

The authority, known for its low taxes, was considered a “definite loss” by Conservative insiders soon after the polls closed in Scotland, Wales and many parts of England at 22:00 on Thursday evening.

In securing Conservative stronghold, Labour won both seats in the new Wandle and Trinity wards, with shadow minister Rosena Allin-Khan and London Mayor Sadiq Khan celebrated together as the results came in.

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Trinity was seen as a key area that the party wanted to win as it was the Conservatives most marginal ward on the estimated new boundaries.

Wandsworth includes Putney which was Labour’s only gain at the 2019 General Election

In bad news for Boris Johnson, Wandsworth is just one area in London where Boris Johnson’s government has battled to hold on to power in these local elections.

Elsewhere, Conservatives insiders think the party may also struggle to hold Barnet.

Barnet has one of the UK’s largest Jewish populations, and after the Labour Party was dogged by accusations of anti-Semitism under former leader Jeremy Corbyn, a win here would be seen as a significant turnaround for Sir Keir.

There were early positive signs for Labour as they made gains from the Conservatives in the West Hendon and Whetstone wards. However, the final results are not expected in Barnet until after dawn.

Elsewhere, there could be more trouble for the Tories in London in Hillingdon, the council which contains the PM’s constituency, where the contest looks closer than was anticipated.

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