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Tories to slump to lowest number of seats since party’s formation, new poll projects | Politics News

Labour are on course for a majority of 200 according to a new YouGov projection, which also suggests the Tories will slump to their lowest number of seats at an election since the party’s formation in 1834.

If this projection is replicated when the country goes to the polls on 4 July, Labour would have the second largest majority since the Second World War.

Election latest: Starmer’s wife says protest outside home made her feel ‘sick’

This is the second of three polling projections of this election campaign by YouGov, which Sky News has partnered with for the election. It uses a modelling technique known as MRP.

The latest poll suggests Labour are on course for a majority that is six seats larger than their initial projection on 3 June, which suggested a majority of 194.

If this and other MRP polls are accurate, it suggests Britain is on the cusp of a fundamental redrawing of the political landscape.

The projection suggests Rishi Sunak’s Conservatives would plummet to 108 seats – down from the 365 won by Boris Johnson in the 2019 election.

More on General Election 2024

This would break all historical records, putting the Tories well below their previous low of 141 seats in 1906 under Arthur Balfour.

It puts Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour on course for a commanding 425 seats, more than double the 202 seats won in the 2019 election and beats all previous records for Labour since the party was founded at the start of the last century.

Sir Tony Blair’s won a peak of 418 seats in 1997.

The Liberal Democrats would win 67 seats under this projection, a huge six times the number of seats they won in 2019.

This would be the highest number since the formation of the Lib Dems, a record previously set in 2005 when Charles Kennedy was leader.

Meanwhile, John Swinney’s SNP are projected to drop to 20 seats under this projection, down from the 48 won by Nicola Sturgeon in the last general election.

Nigel Farage’s Reform party is on course for five seats, the Greens on two seats and Plaid Cymru on four seats.

Since 3 June, when the last YouGov MRP was published, the pollster has changed its calls in 59 seats.

The Tories have dropped 32 seats since, Labour has gained three seats in this projection, while the Lib Dems are up 19, SNP up three and Plaid up two.

Reform wins five seats under the new projection, having previously been on course to win none according to YouGov. This includes Mr Farage winning his seat in Clacton.

Some 109 seats are still listed as a “tossup”.

If all tossup and close races in every seat where Conservatives are second went in their favour, rather than in the direction assumed in this poll, then Labour would still have a majority of 132. The Conservatives in that scenario would win 153 seats – still their lowest on record and far below what Labour won in 2019 under Jeremy Corbyn.

The projection vote shares, implied by this MRP, are Labour on 39%, the Tories on 22%, Reform on 15%, Lib Dems on 12% and Greens on 7%.

This means the Labour majority and seat tally have both gone up, even though Labour’s implied vote share is down three points since the start of June. The big winners are Reform, up from 10% to 15% and the Lib Dems, up from 11% to 12%.

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The polling for the projection was conducted from last Tuesday until this Tuesday with 39,979 people interviewed online: 36,161 in England and Wales and 3,818 in Scotland.

It suggests the Conservatives would be a party predominantly of the south east, south west and east of England. The party risks an all or near wipe out in the north east, in Wales and the north west.

Big name losses projected

The MRP poll also means big name losers on election night.

Some 15 of 27 cabinet members still standing in the election are set to lose, according to this projection.

The new cabinet casualties are Victoria Atkins, the health secretary, Lucy Frazer, the culture secretary, Richard Holden, the Conservative Party chair and Michael Tomlinson, who attends cabinet as an immigration minister.

This adds to Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, Grant Shapps, the defence secretary and Penny Mordaunt, the leader of the Commons.

Some 29 of the 45 ministers running in this election are projected to lose, including Steve Baker, the Northern Ireland minister, Chris Philp, the crime minister, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, the foreign office minister and Greg Hands, the trade minister.

Other notable Tory casualties include Robert Jenrick in Newark and Caroline Nokes in Romsey and Southampton North.

One Labour shadow cabinet member, Thangam Debbonaire, is still set to lose her Bristol West seat to the Greens.

Billionaire donor John Caudwell endorses Labour for first time in ‘despair’ at Tories | Politics News

A billionaire donor who backed Boris Johnson at the last election said he will be voting for Labour next month because the Tories’ record has left him in “despair”.

John Caudwell, who founded Phones4U, gave half a million pounds to the Conservatives in 2019 to avoid what he called “the disaster that would have been Jeremy Corbyn in Downing Street”.

Election latest: Labour to win landslide, poll projects

However, he said the “failures” of the three prime ministers in government since then, alongside Labour’s “transformation” under leader Sir Keir Starmer had led him to switch allegiance for the first time in his life.

Mr Caudwell said: “For many years now I have been rather despairing about the performance of the party that I have supported for the last 51 years: the Tories.

“Only five years ago, I donated half a million to the Conservatives to help avert the disaster that would have been Jeremy Corbyn in Downing Street.

“But I’ve been increasingly critical of Tory failures since then, particularly over Rishi’s mismanagement of the economy during Covid, Boris’ lowering of ethical standards – and, of course, associated with that the accusation that Tory cronies benefited improperly regarding Covid PPE – and then the Liz Truss debacle.”

More on General Election 2024

Mr Caudwell said over the last two years especially, he has been “amazed by how Keir Starmer has transformed the Labour Party and brought it back from that Corbyn brink”.

“As I have always said, the government must be much more commercially minded to grow GDP in order to finance the public services that benefit all of society without increasing taxes.”

 Pic: PA
Starmer is projected to win a landslide. Pic: PA

He said he was “delighted” to see economic growth at the “front and centre” of Labour’s manifesto, and “that projected growth is clearly tied into making Britain a clean energy superpower”.

He added: “So, I can declare publicly that I will vote for Labour, and I encourage everybody to do the same.

“We need a very strong Labour Government that can take extremely bold decisions and you can rest assured that I will be doing my best to influence them wherever I can, in putting the great back in Britain.”

The news is a further boost for Sir Keir, who according to the latest election poll is on course for a 256-seat majority – the largest of any post-war government.

Read More:
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Tories heading for worst-ever defeat, poll finds

If correct that would also plunge the Tories to their lowest number of MPs ever – a remarkable turnaround for the party that won a commanding 80-seat majority five years ago.

The announcement follows a recent meeting between Mr Caudwell and Sir Keir.

Sir Keir said: “I’m delighted that John, someone with such a successful track record in business, has today thrown his support behind the changed Labour Party that I lead.

“The message is clear: business backs change and economic stability with Labour, and rejects five more years of chaos and decline with the Tories.”

Sir Keir added: “John was not just a Conservative voter but a substantial donor to the Conservative Party in 2019 – so it’s not a decision that he will have taken lightly. But it’s clear that he shares my plan for growth that I set out in the Labour manifesto.

“I’m campaigning non stop between now and 4 July to win the votes of other people who have backed the Tories in the past but see change with Labour as the best future for Britain.”

Tories pledge to shake-up Equality Act to ‘end confusion’ over legal definition of sex | Politics News

The Conservatives have vowed to change the Equality Act to ensure “biological sex” is a protected characteristic.

The party said reforming the law – which states that an individual must not be discriminated against on the basis of their sex – would clear up “confusion” among public bodies and institutions about access to female-only spaces.

The Tories said it would change the Act to clarify that “sex” meant “biological sex”.

It said the shake-up would make it “simpler for service providers for women and girls, such as those running sessions for domestic abuse victims, to prevent biological males from taking part”.

The party’s latest general election promise came as it claimed that the current terms of the Equality Act, which came into force in 2010 after being passed by Labour, was outdated and had created uncertainty.

It could result in transgender women being barred from female-only spaces.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “The safety of women and girls is too important to allow the current confusion around definitions of sex and gender to persist.

“The Conservatives believe that making this change in law will enhance protections in a way that respects the privacy and dignity of everyone in society.

“We are taking an evidence-led approach to this issue so we can continue to build a secure future for everyone across the whole country.”

Equalities minister Kemi Badenoch suggested the government was considering the move earlier this year.

At the time, LGBTQ+ charity Stonewall said the proposal risked “opening yet another chapter in a manufactured culture war that will see little benefit to women, cis and trans alike”.

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Announcing the pledge on Sunday night, Ms Badenoch said: “Whether it is rapists being housed in women’s prisons, or instances of men playing in women’s sports where they have an unfair advantage, it is clear that public authorities and regulatory bodies are confused about what the law says on sex and gender and when to act – often for fear of being accused of transphobia, or not being inclusive.”

The Conservatives also said the proposed change would not remove the existing and continuing protections against discrimination on the basis of gender reassignment provided by the Equality Act.

The sex of those with a Gender Recognition Certificate will still align with their acquired gender in law outside the Equality Act, for example, marriage law, as is the status quo.

Under the new scheme, the Conservatives will also establish in law that gender recognition is a reserved matter, as they say “this will mean that an individual can only have one sex in the eyes of the law in the United Kingdom”.

The pledge comes as Labour prepares to put defence and national security at the heart of its election pitch to voters on Monday.

Sir Keir Starmer will describe Labour as the “party of national security” as he meets veterans and candidates during a visit to the North West.

He is also expected to reaffirm the party’s commitment to the so-called “nuclear deterrent triple lock”, which includes a commitment to construct the four new nuclear submarines in Barrow-in-Furness.

Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats are set to call for new protections for rivers and coastlines to end what it describes as “environmental vandalism”.

The party has announced an expansion of marine protected areas and a new Blue Flag status for rivers will be included in its manifesto.

Tories want to replace ‘rip-off degrees’ with 100,000 new apprentices a year | Politics News

The Conservatives will promise to replace “rip-off degrees” with 100,000 apprenticeships each year by the end of the next parliament if they win the general election.

Rishi Sunak will outline the plan on Wednesday to replace the “worst performing” courses with high-skilled apprenticeships, which they say will provide “more opportunities and greater financial security”.

Politics live: Starmer gives blunt response on EU

Making the announcement, Mr Sunak will say: “Improving education is the closest thing we have to a silver bullet for boosting life chances. So, it’s not fair that some university courses are ripping young people off.

“Thanks to our plan, apprenticeships are much higher quality than they were under Labour. And now we will create 100,000 more, by putting an end to rip-off degrees and offering our young people the employment opportunities and financial security they need to thrive.

“That’s the choice at this election – the Conservatives with our clear plan to grow the economy and give people the opportunities they need for a secure future, or Labour who have no plan and would take us back to square one.”

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A new law will grant powers to the Office for Students to identify the courses with the highest dropout rates, the least progression to graduate jobs and the lowest earnings potential, and then close them.

The party will then continue its existing measures to “boost uptake” of apprenticeships – including funding the cost of training some young apprentices at small and medium-sized businesses – as well as working with the creative sector to find new routes for people to train.

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PM plays football on the campaign trail

But while the Conservatives boasted about delivering 5.8 million apprenticeships since taking office in 2010, Labour claimed the party had halved the number offered since 2015.

Labour’s shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson said: “It is laughable that the Tories, who have presided over a halving of apprenticeships for young people, are now announcing this.

“Why on earth should parents and young people believe they’ll create training opportunities now, after 14 years of failing to deliver opportunities for young people and the skills needed to grow our economy?”

The Liberal Democrats also condemned the Conservatives’ policy announcement, with their education spokesperson Munira Wilson saying the party had “broken the apprenticeship system”.

“The shockingly low pay for those on apprenticeships will remain, doing nothing to encourage more people to take apprenticeships up or tackle soaring dropout rates,” she added.

“This treatment of apprentices as second-class workers will only continue under the Conservatives.”

Read more from Sky News:
Labour makes NHS backlog pledge
On the campaign trail with PM – where gaffes are always a danger

Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey will be launching his party’s local campaign in Wales on Wednesday, committing £1bn of extra funding for agriculture.

He will say: “British farmers are the best in the business, but Conservative neglect has left too many farmers on their knees. Rishi Sunak takes farmers for granted.

“This election gives Wales the opportunity of a lifetime to show the Conservatives the door, by voting for Liberal Democrats who will champion the best of Welsh farming.”

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The Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey has been testing his paddleboarding skills in the Lake District

Labour will be focusing its campaign on the NHS, with Sir Keir Starmer pledging to clear the backlog of patients waiting over 18 weeks for NHS treatment within five years.

Measures will include doubling the number of scanners, using spare capacity in the private sector – without charge for patients – and delivering what Labour claims to be “the biggest expansion of NHS staff in history”.

Meanwhile, the SNP will be calling on Labour to bring the railways back into public ownership if they win the next election and introduce a major infrastructure investment package to “reverse cuts imposed by the Tories”.

At a campaign event, First Minister John Swinney will say: “Keir Starmer has spent his entire career running away from traditional left of centre values like public ownership – and taken left wing voters for granted by lurching to the right and adopting Tory policies.

“But we cannot afford more of the same – Westminster has inflicted austerity, Brexit and a cost of living crisis on the people of Scotland – and it is time for a genuine alternative.”

Rishi Sunak admits Tories may not win general election and claims UK heading for hung parliament | Politics News

Rishi Sunak has admitted the Tories may not win the general election after grim defeats in the local polls.

The prime minister suggested the UK was on course for a hung parliament and claimed voters would not want to see Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer “propped up in Downing Street” by the SNP or smaller parties.

In an interview with The Times, Mr Sunak pointed to Sky News analysis of the local election results by election expert Professor Michael Thrasher which suggested Labour would be the largest party in a hung parliament.

Politics live: PM told to ‘wake up and smell the coffee’ after elections

“These results suggest we are heading for a hung parliament with Labour as the largest party,” Mr Sunak told the paper.

“Keir Starmer propped up in Downing Street by the SNP, Liberal Democrats and the Greens would be a disaster for Britain.

“The country doesn’t need more political horse-trading, but action. We are the only party that has a plan to deliver on the priorities of the people.”

Meanwhile, Tory rebels have warned the prime minister to change his political course after the weekend’s local election results.

Read more:
The local election winners and losers
Charts tell story of Conservative collapse

Analysis: Labour’s future success is less clear-cut

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PM on ‘disappointing’ election results

Sunak urged to take party towards right

Former home secretary Suella Braverman urged him to mould the party towards the right in order to win back voters.

But she told the BBC a change of leadership was not a “feasible prospect,” adding: “There is no superman or superwoman out there who can do it.”

Ms Braverman urged the prime minister to adopt several measures to win back voters, including further tax cuts and a cap on legal migration.

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Rishi Sunak ‘up for the fight’ in general election

Tories ‘up for the fight,’ minister insists

But Transport Secretary Mark Harper insisted Mr Sunak and the Tories are “up for the fight” of a general election despite their terrible results in the local contests.

Talking to Sky News’ Sunday Morning With Trevor Phillips, the minister said: “I think the key thing that people need to do now is get behind the prime minister, focus on the things the government is focused on delivering – the British people’s priorities around the economy, dealing with migration – and get out there and take that fight to the country ahead of the general election.”

Labour won 1,158 seats in the 107 councils in England that held elections on 2 May, an increase of more than 232.

The Liberal Democrats won 552 seats, up nearly 100, while the Tories came in third place on 515 seats, down nearly 400.

Labour promises publicly owned rail – as Tories slam ‘unfunded nationalisation’ | Politics News

Labour will promise to deliver the biggest shake-up to rail “in a generation” by establishing the long-delayed Great British Railways (GBR) organisation and bringing routes back into public ownership.

Making the announcement in a speech on Thursday, shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh will also pledge to establish a “best-price ticket guarantee” for travellers, offer automatic “delay repay” schemes and make digital season tickets available across the network.

But the proposals have been attacked by the Conservatives, who claim Labour has no plan to pay for them.

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GBR was first proposed in 2021 after a review of the railways, with the aim of simplifying the franchise system and rebuilding passenger numbers after they fell dramatically during the pandemic.

The proposed public body promised to subsume Network Rail’s responsibility for track and stations, as well as taking charge of ticketing, timetables and network planning.

But despite getting backing from Boris Johnson and his ministers, its establishment has faced continuous delays and the organisation yet to see the light of day.

Boris Johnson faces the COVID inquiry next week
Boris Johnson backed the creation of Great British Railways in 2021. Pic: PA

Labour is now pledging to get GBR up and running if they win the next election, with some additional pledges of their own.

The party said the body, which would be run by industry experts rather than government officials, would end the “fragmentation, waste [and] bureaucracy” of the current network.

And it would “stop profits leaking out to private operators” by taking charge of passenger lines when franchises run out – leading eventually to the whole passenger network being publicly owned.

Labour said this method would prevent taxpayers from having to cover any compensation to the operators that would be due if they renationalised the railways immediately.

EMBARGOED TO 2230 FRIDAY DECEMBER 22 File photo dated 16/04/21 of shadow transport minister Louise Haigh, who has said Labour will "boost the charge point rollout". Labour has pledged to support drivers through the cost-of-living crisis, as millions across the country hit the road to head home for the Christmas period. Issue date: Friday December 22, 2023.
Shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh will outline Labour’s plans on Thursday. Pic: PA

The party also pledged to create a new independent watchdog called the Passenger Standards Authority to ensure GBR keeps up its standards.

And it committed to introducing a statutory duty on GBR to promote the use of rail freight – still owned by private firms – to cut carbon emissions and reduce lorry traffic.

Ms Haigh said: “With Labour’s bold reforms, a publicly owned railway will be single-mindedly focused on delivering for passengers and will be held to account on delivering reliable, safe, efficient, accessible, affordable and quality services.

“Labour’s detailed plans will get our railways back on track; driving up standards for passengers, bringing down costs for taxpayers, driving growth and getting Britain moving.”

The proposals have won the backing of Keith Williams – one of the experts behind the rail review – who recommended the creation of GBR three years ago.

He said its creation would “deliver a better railway for passengers and freight”, adding: “Running a better railway and driving revenue and reducing costs will deliver economic growth, jobs and housing by delivering better connectivity.”

But the Conservative rail minister Huw Merriman attacked Labour’s plans as “pointless, unfunded rail nationalisation that will do nothing to improve train reliability or affordability for passengers”, adding: “Without a plan to pay for this, it means one thing – taxes will rise on hard-working people.”

His criticism was backed up by Rail Partners chief executive Andy Bagnall – representing private operators – who said while train companies “agree that change is needed… nationalisation is a political rather than a practical solution which will increase costs over time”.

Tories warned Mark Menzies misuse of funds claims ‘constituted fraud’ but whistleblower told there was no ‘duty’ to report it | Politics News

The Conservatives were warned ex-Tory MP Mark Menzies’s alleged misuse of party funds may have constituted fraud but the whistleblower was told there was no duty to report it

Mr Menzies, the MP for Fylde in Lancashire, gave up the Tory whip in the wake of reports in The Times that he misused party funds. He disputes the allegations.

The allegations came about after Mr Menzies former campaign manager, Katie Fieldhouse, spoke to the newspaper.

Mark Menzies pictured in Peru  in 2020
Pic: AP
Mark Menzies pictured in Peru in 2020. Pic: AP

In a new interview with The Times this evening, Ms Fieldhouse, 78, claims she was told the Conservative Party was aware the allegations were potentially criminal.

She says the Conservative Party’s chief of staff “told me that when they first took over the investigation [from the Whips’ Office] they had consulted solicitors”.

She added: “He told me on the phone, ‘the solicitor said it is fraud but you are not duty-bound to report it because it’s not Conservative Party money’.”

The whistleblower said she was told the decision not to inform the police was made because it was donors’ money and not the party’s.

A Conservative spokesperson said: “The party is conducting an investigation into the claims made and has been doing so for several months.

“We will of course share any information with the police if they believe it would be helpful to any investigation they decide to undertake.

“Suggestions the party has not been seriously examining this matter are demonstrably false.”

Lancashire Police said today it was “reviewing” information about Mr Menzies after Labour asked for an investigation to take place.

In a statement, the force said: “We can confirm that we have now received a letter detailing concerns around this matter and we are in the process of reviewing the available information in more detail.”

Read more: All the Tory MPs suspended since Sunak became PM

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Ruth Davidson on Mark Menzies allegations

The party’s chief whip, Simon Hart, is said to have been made aware of the claims in January, when the former campaign manager reported what had happened.

Sky News understands there has been an investigation ongoing by Conservative Campaign Headquarters (CCHQ) since the allegations were first raised, but further information came to light this week and Mr Hart acted immediately.

Speaking tonight, Labour’s chair Anneliese Dodds said: “The Conservative chairman and chief whip must urgently come out of hiding and explain what they knew and what advice they received.

“If, as reported, they or Conservative officials​ were warned about potentially fraudulent activity and chose not to go to the police, this would be indefensible.”

Mr Menzies, who has served as an MP since May 2010, is reported to have phoned his 78-year-old former campaign manager at 3.15am last December, saying he was locked in a flat by “bad people” and needed £5,000 as a matter of “life and death”.

The sum, which rose to £6,500, was eventually paid by his office manager from her personal bank account and subsequently reimbursed from funds raised from donors in an account named Fylde Westminster Group, the newspaper says.

Speaking to Sky News, Ms Fieldhouse said: “I am feeling dreadful because I am a devout Tory and as I have said to everybody else, I reported his actions to the chief whip… it is now the middle of April.

“Come to your own conclusions [about] what is happening.”

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Asked if she was disappointed with the way the complaint was being handled, she said: “Yes.”

Mr Menzies said on Thursday: “I strongly dispute the allegations put to me. I have fully complied with all the rules for declarations. As there is an investigation ongoing I will not be commenting further.”

Kingswood by-election: Labour takes seat from Tories in key vote | Politics News

Labour has taken Kingswood from the Conservatives, in another by-election victory for Sir Keir Starmer’s party.

Damien Egan won 11,176 votes, while Tory candidate Sam Bromiley polled 8,675, giving Labour a majority of 2,501.

The seat in Gloucestershire had been held by Tory MP Chris Skidmore since 2010, but he quit in January in protest over government legislation to boost North Sea oil and gas drilling.

By-election results live: Follow updates here

Kingswood by-election full results

  • Damien Egan – Labour Party – 11,176
  • Sam Bromiley – Conservative Party – 8,675
  • Rupert Lowe – Reform UK – 2,578
  • Lorraine Francis – Green Party – 1,450
  • Andrew Brown – Lib Dems – 861
  • David Wood – UKIP – 129

The former energy minister had increased his share of the vote at each of the four elections in the past 13 years, from 40% in 2010 to 49% in 2015, 55% in 2017 and 56% in 2019.

Sir Keir said: “This is a fantastic result in Kingswood that shows people are ready to put their trust in a Labour government.

“By winning in this Tory stronghold, we can confidently say that Labour is back in the service of working people and we will work tirelessly to deliver for them.

“To those who have put their trust in us, you can be safe in the knowledge that the Labour Party will deliver on your priorities. Labour will give Britain its future back.”

Notably, Reform UK – previously the Brexit Party – came in third place, winning 2,578 votes – the first time their vote share at a by-election has surpassed 10%.

This means that the total of the Conservative and Reform vote equates to more than the Labour vote.

A Labour source told Sky News they believed they had won the seat at around 1.30am – the results were announced at around 1.50am.

Before 2010, Labour had won the seat at every general election since 1992.

The turnout this time was 24,905 – which equates to around 37.1% of eligible voters in the constituency.

This is a significant drop of 34 percentage points from the 2019 general election.

To win, Labour needed a swing in the share of the vote of 11.4 percentage points – equivalent to a net change of 12 in every 100 people who voted Conservative in 2019 switching sides.

Provisional calculations show the swing ended up being 16.4 from the Conservatives to Labour.

In total, the Conservative Party’s vote share fell by 21.3 percentage points, meanwhile the Labour Party’s vote increased by 11.5 percentage points.

The Liberal Democrats vote fell by 3.4 points, and the Green Party went up by 3.4 points.

Votes are counted for the Kingswood by-election at the Thornbury Leisure Centre, Gloucestershire.
Votes are counted for the Kingswood by-election at the Thornbury Leisure Centre, Gloucestershire. Pic: PA

Speaking after his election, Mr Egan said: “Thank you for giving me your trust and for allowing me to serve the community I’m from.

“It’s a trust that I promise to repay, to show that politics can be different and can make a difference.”

He added: “Fourteen years of Conservative government have sucked the hope out of our country.

“There’s a feeling that no matter how hard you work, you just can’t move forward, and with Rishi’s recession we are left once again paying more and getting less.”

While the Kingswood seat is disappearing at the next general election due to boundary changes, Mr Egan is standing for Bristol North East, which contains much of the same electorate.

Mr Bromiley left the hall where the vote was being counted within seconds of the declaration, with the door shut behind him to prevent journalists from following him.

Starmer ‘wants to have fight’ with Tories over Labour’s £28bn green spending pledge | Politics News

Sir Keir Starmer wants to have “a fight” with the Conservative Party on his target to spend £28bn a year on green projects by 2030.

He told Wilfred Frost on Sky News: “It’s absolutely clear to me that the Tories are trying to weaponise this issue, the 28 billion, etc.

“It’s a fight I want to have, if we can have a fight going into the election between an incoming Labour government that wants to invest in the future long-term strategy that will lower our bills and give us energy independence versus stagnation, more of the same under this government.

“If they want that fight on borrow to invest, I’m absolutely up for that.”

Politics latest: Sir Keir Starmer faces questions as election year kicks off

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The Labour leader added that he was “very happy to do live debates” – including on Sky News – but the specifics would be negotiated at a later date.

Sir Keir added that his first mission was to grow the economy, and he reiterated that any fiscal pledge would need to adhere to his party’s fiscal rules.

The party has previously watered down the £28bn pledge – saying it was a target rather than a commitment.

Sir Keir was asked if it was “irresponsible” to have a “trade off” between green policy and the economy.

He told the Sunday Morning with Trevor Phillips programme on Sky News: “No, I don’t.

“Because the government is trying to pretend that the date on which an incoming Labour government signs a particular cheque, is what matters. What matters is clean power by 2030, keeping to those targets.

“I’m not prepared to move that date.”

The Labour leader last week launched his general election campaign, with a vote likely to take place this year.

Speaking near Bristol on Thursday, he rejected that he was “cautious” and pitching himself as simply a way to end the Conservative’s time in power.

Sir Keir added that the “change that we are offering, the difference that we want to make, between 14 years of decline and a decade of national renewal, they are fundamentally different things”.

Earlier this week, Rishi Sunak indicated he will call an election in the second part of this year – with Sky’s deputy political editor Sam Coates hearing that 14 November is the frontrunner in government circles.

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When could the next general election be?
Beth Rigby: Election delay is last thing Starmer needs

Sir Keir taking on Tory strategy head on with challenge on spending

Rob Powell Political reporter

Rob Powell

Political correspondent


The first week of the year has seen both party leaders shift into gear for the long election campaign – something fully on show in Sir Keir Starmer’s first Sunday morning interview of 2024.

The pre-ballot trash talk has started with the Labour leader calling on the prime minister to “set a date” now with a new attack line levelled on his opposite number that Rishi Sunak is trying to clock up two years in office before going to the polls.

But despite claiming to be ready for the vote, much of Sir Keir’s policy offering still appears to be a work in progress.

On taxation, the Labour leader suggested he would look to prioritise taxes for people in work – but would go no further.

On the party’s 2021 pledge to spend £28bn on clean energy investment, a pivot is undoubtedly in the offing as Sir Keir looks to shift the emphasis away from the exact figure – which many doubt can be hit given the party’s fiscal rules – and to the longer term promise for clean electricity by 2030.

Plenty of people doubt a Labour government would meet that pledge either, but it’s the £28bn that the Conservatives have chosen to weaponise – hence the recalibration.

We saw Sir Keir address that Tory strategy head on though, saying that if Rishi Sunak wants that fight in the election campaign “bring it on”.

For a politician sometimes accused of lacking personality and emotional depth, we also got a rare glimpse into Starmer the husband and Starmer the father.

He spoke of his one big worry about his potential career trajectory saying there would undoubtedly be an impact on his young children and he “desperately” wanted to protect them.

It’s likely to be a messy and vicious election campaign.

This won’t be the last time that Sir Keir is asked about matters beyond politics and policy.

Sir Keir told Sky that the prime minister is putting “vanity before country” by delaying the calling of a vote, adding that he wants a vote “as soon as possible”.

The Labour leader pointed out this is the first election since 2015 which the public knows is coming in advance.

“And so if people want change – and I think they do – I can make that case.

“But in the end it’s voters who will, on whatever day it is, be able to go and put that cross on the ballot and determine the future of their country.

“I mean, the power of the vote is incredible, and it’s a reminder that this year voters have the power to vote for hope and change.”

In his interview with Wilfred Frost, Sir Keir was also asked which taxes he would cut to deliver his desire to lowering the tax burden.

He did not name any specifics, but rather stated that “taxes on working people” would be what he is aiming to reduce if he gets the keys to Number 10.

But the Labour leader said government needs to look at the reasons for a high tax burden – singling out a “low growth economy” and 14 years of “effectively” stagnation.

“We’ve got to have a discussion about how we grow the economy,” he said.

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Sir Keir Starmer opens up about family support.

Speaking about the more personal side of being a frontline politician, Sir Keir said his wife “is fantastic”.

He added: “She is my complete support and partner in this.

“She doesn’t do anything publicly; she wants to get on with her job, she works for the NHS, we’ve got two relatively young children, a boy who’s 15, a boy who’s 13, but it impacts them all of the time, every single day.

“And all of that I do, I talk through with Vic, all the big decisions, the ones which we sit and talk thorough at home, and that is a good thing except I’m not sure she signed up for this.”

‘Political suicide’: Grassroots Tories’ fury at Rishi Sunak after sacking Suella Braverman revealed in leaked WhatsApps | Politics News

Sacking Suella Braverman means “suicide” for the Tory party and Rishi Sunak has just “thrown the election away” according to leaked WhatsApp messages between members of a grassroots Conservative organisation leaked to Sky News.

Members of the Conservative Democratic Organisation (CDO), a momentum-style group created out of frustration at the ousting of Boris Johnson and Liz Truss and backed by Priti Patel, called on Tory MPs to submit letters of no confidence in Rishi Sunak after Monday’s reshuffle.

Conversations between CDO members on Monday reveal they believe “Sunak has committed political suicide” and “the cabinet is pretty much the exact opposite of what we voted for in 2019” while another asks “is it April Fool’s day???”

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The CDO, whose president is Lord Peter Cruddas, aims to change the rules of the Tory party to give the membership a bigger voice in its running.

Sky News has seen messages from regional WhatsApp groups where CDO members give their views on the reshuffle. Many, but not all, are Conservative members, and almost none are nationally recognisable figures so are not being named by Sky News.

These views are not representative, therefore, of the whole Tory membership, but represent a slice of Conservative thinking inside and outside the party. It chimes with some Tory MPs on the right who believe the reshuffle will bolster Reform UK, the right-wing party created from the Brexit Party.

In the South East CDO group, one contributor calls the appointment of David Cameron a “very weak decision”, another calls it the “undoing of the party” and a third says “FFS”.

One says “the only good news would be if Kemi [Badenoch, business secretary] replaces [Chancellor Jeremy] Hunt but I can’t see it”.

Read more from Sam Coates:
Sunak mocked in leaked WhatsApps by grassroots
Scale of civil war between Tory MPs over police revealed

Some in relation to Cameron refer to conspiracy theories about an elite in Davos controlling the world.

“His biggest regret was Brexit, even though he was always a eurosceptic. Why? Because it robbed him of post PM £s on the Davos circuit. He’s back to redeem himself under Davos darling Nutsak”. “Nutsak” is an occasional nickname for Sunak in this group.

“I’ve not been this angry since Boris was forced out”, says one.

In the same group, they respond to the sacking of Ms Braverman as home secretary with dismay.

“I call on Conservative MPs to submit their VoNC [vote of no confidence] letters to the 1922 [Committee]. Rishi Sunak & his out-of-touch squad, must be outed from No10,” said one. Later that day, Tory MP Andrea Jenkyns did submit such a letter.

“Is Suella a member of the CDO?” asks one. “How can we help her and thereby help ourselves and our country? I am really unhappy about this… Let’s push for letters to go in.”

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Richard Holden’s appointment as party chairman is also the source of dismay because he is seen as close to Mr Sunak.

“Apparently an ex CCHQ staffer, otherwise known as a full commitment to the lunatics taking over the asylum,” one said.

Read the full exchanges below.


[08:39] Activist 1: Reshuffle starting now…

[08:40] Activist 1: Suella has just been sacked. The end of the Conservative party

[08:40] Activist 2: Harry Cole was reporting that it was expected because of the vague agenda for today.

[08:42] Activist 2: Let’s hope it’s the beginning of the end for Sunak

[08:4?] Activist 2: He’s now jumping to the bark of Labour

[08:45] Activist 3: If Suella has been sacked, then he should go. Is Suella a member of CDO? How can we help her and thereby help ourselves and our country? I am really unhappy about this.

[08:46] Activist 2: Now it’s time for the backbenchers to put up.

[08:46] Activist 3: Let’s push for the letters to go in.

[08:46] Activist 4: He is demonstrating he is a follower not a leader.

[08:47] Activist 2: It’s so weak. Even if he wanted to sack her he shouldn’t indulge in the left

[08:47] Activist 3: An unelected one at that. Disgraceful.

[08:47] Activist 5: Suella has been sacked – it’s on the news websites now.

[08:50] Activist 6: I call on Conservatives Mp’s to submit their VoNC letters to the 1922. Rishi Sunak & his out-of-touch squad, must be ousted from NO.10. To those few are still members, please write your Association(s). #Ready4Rishi2Go

[08:58] Activist 7: Sunak & he party is sunk. They’ve backed the wrong horse(s)

[08:59] Activist 2: Cleverly as HS

[09:00] Activist 8 : Not sure what he was thinking, she can do more damage to him on the backbenches! Thanks for that was about to write to Cleverly about a matter abroad!


[08:41] Activist 1: Suella has been sacked

[08:41] Activist 2: What an idiot!

[08:42] Activist 3: Activist Sunak got to go

[08:42] Activist 4: Well on the bright side Suella is free now to replace him when the time comes…

[08:43] Activist 5: It’s nothing like the party I joined in the 1970’s when we had a clear vision and direction. My MP doesn’t share many of my Conservative principles sadly like many of his colleagues.

[08:43] Activist 6: I think this trigger for letters to go in

[08:51] Activist 6: Tell your MP’s!

[08:54] Activist 5: Just sent an email to my MP

[08:57] Activist 6: Great yes pile on everyone

[10:13] Activist 2: There are no pliable MPs left for Sunak and his squad to call upon. What an utter clown show. What now Activist 6?

[10:15] Activist 6: Now letters must go in and Sunak replaced urgently. We could have a leadership election in 3 weeks including limited hustings and members vote.

[10:16] Activist 7: Do you think there are enough MPs with a backbone to do it though?


[07:08] Activist 1: The current Tory government

Rishi Sunak: Stabbed the one person who gave him a top job, rejected by us, done nothing in the year he’s been the cuckoo prime minister, rejected by the people according to the pills.

Hunt: Rejected by us 4 times and disliked by the people according to the polls.

Cameron: Didn’t like the result of a democracy so ran away and let down his constituency by resigning. Got caught being a naughty man.

Did I miss anything? :/

[08:42] Activist 2: He’s sacked Suella! He’s on a suicide mission for the party!

[08:43] Activist 3: Sunak has committed political suicide

That being said, I’m sure this is a positive step towards a Bravermen leadership.

[08:45] Activist 4: Time for the letters to go in! Let’s see what mess is made of reshuffle too.

[08:49] Activist 2: I’m furious.

[08:49] Activist 2: He is no Politician. He doesn’t understand that the Tory faithful are pretty much only still faithful because of Suella.

[08:52] Activist 2: I’m a party member, I’ve always voted Tory. I’m active in the local association and I am really struggling with the idea of voting for them at the next GE. Sorry, but they need a kicking.

[08:52] Activist 3: I would be furious if I wasn’t rather excited to watch Sunak’s unravelling and a (potential) leadership bid by Suella.

Rishi has signed his political death warrant, and Suella will be back – so the situation is bittersweet.

[09:50] Activist 5: This is just awful.

[09:50] Activist 5: Sunak is not even a Tory

[09:50] Activist 5: MPs: Get him out NOW!

[09:50] Activist 2: I’m so angry I can’t focus on work.

[10:13] Activist 6: I feel the same, I’m furious. Just watched the idiots on GB News saying Suella was out of control. She was the first minister in years I actually felt was a real Conservative with genuine Conservative values. I hope she runs for leadership and kicks Sunak to touch.

[10:19] Activist 2: This cabinet is pretty much the exact opposite of what we voted for in 2019.

[10:44] Activist 7: If she does and gets voted in overwhelmingly by the membership, the snakes will oust her, ignore us all and install another puppet!

[10:45] Activist 8: It’s 10:45.

What’s the delay in those letters to Sir Graham? There’s not a postal strike is there?

[10:45] Activist 9: Exactly, as we are unfortunately accustomed to.

[13:15] Activist 10: I see the ‘one nation’ tories are full of glee today.

[13:34] Activist 11: They won’t be after next year’s general election results.

[13:36] Activist 11: Although saying that, they might actually be gleeful, since they seem so hellbent on causing as much reputational damage to the party as possible.


[10:12] Activist 1: I can’t believe it. Suella sacked and Cameron in as foreign secretary!

[10:13] Activist 1: Is it April fools day????

[10:14] Activist 2: Incredible – has just thrown the election away! I bet Starmer sends him a crate of champagne to thank him! We need to get off our bums and write in and voice our anger.

[11:08] Activist 3: I wonder who made him sack her? Dr. No or another member of the cabal really running the country? Looks like time to quit the party for me.

[11.10] Activist 4: Stay as a member. You will have more influence in the future.

[11:10] Activist 5: It’s not our party anymore… It hasn’t been for a while.

[11:10] Activist 3: Exactly true!

[11:16] Activist 6: I’m not quitting. I want the satisfaction of being involved in rebuilding once these people have moved on. Unfortunately unless the backbenchers grow a pair we are going to have to go a few years of socialism in order to move them on .

[11:18] Activist 7: A few years? We’ll never get into power again… Votes will be opened up to 16 year olds, non-British nationals too.. We’ll then have another referendum and be back under the globalists boot. Democracy will be dead, and this party with its blatant corruption, enabled it.

[11:39] Activist 8:v I heard they’re going to change the membership vote for PM, just in case we have the audacity of not choosing the right person. It breaks my heart to say this, but the conservative party, that I’ve supported for years, is well and truly finished. A vote for this shower is a wasted vote.

[11:43] Activist 9: Will Cameron become leader?

[13:24] Activist 9: Hague orchestrated Cameron. It’s to stop a Boris or Farage come back.

[13:26] Activist 9: We need to split.

[13:38] Activist 9: Right wing members of 2 groups meeting this afternoon. Let’s see the letters but i think we need a breakaway.