ocal election results are being declared in England after millions went to the polls across the UK.
Polling stations closed at 10pm on Thursday in the 200 local authorities holding elections with counts launched for 75 English councils.
The first result was declared in Sunderland, where Labour maintained control of the council albeit with a smaller share of the vote compared to 2018.
Londoners were voting to decide who runs the capital’s 32 borough councils while residents in five boroughs – Hackney, Lewisham, Newham and Tower Hamlets – voted for a directly elected mayor.
The results are expected to be crucial for the future of Prime Minister Boris Johnson as he grapples with the fall-out from the partygate scandal.
A poor result for the Tories nationwide is likely to raise fresh questions over his leadership of the party
Senior Tory – “we will lose Westminster”
The Conservatives are becoming increasingly pessimistic about their chances of hanging on to their stronghold of Westminster, following Labour’s shock win in Wandsworth.
A senior Tory source is reported as saying “we will lose it” in reference to the council.
A recount is currently underway in the Lancaster Gate ward, which could be crucial to Labour’s chances of winning control of the council. Meanwhile, the party achieved a “huge result”, winning all three seats in the West End ward covering Soho, Mayfair and Fitzrovia.
‘National issues to blame’ – outgoing Wandsworth Tory leader
The outgoing Conservative leader of Wandsworth Council has said that “national issues” are to blame for his party’s loss in Wandsworth.
Labour won control of Wandsworth for the first time in the borough’s history in the early hours of Friday morning, gaining eight seats from the Tories.
Ravi Govindia, who had led Wandsworth Council for 11 years, told the BBC that “other events have clouded the judgement of people in Wandsworth – national events” and that “local issues have counted for nothing”.
Sporting a purple rosette in place of the traditional Conservative blue, Mr Govindia said that “consistently on the doorstep people have raised the issue of national Government”.
But Mr Govindia refused to be drawn on whether he was referring to the leadership of Boris Johnson and issues such as partygate.
He also suggested that low voter turnout contributed to his party’s failure to hang on to Wandsworth Council.
Wandsworth: Labour GAIN from Conservative
And there we have it, Labour has officially won control of Wandsworth Council for the first time since 1978.
The “crown jewel” of Conservative councils, and said to be a favourite of Margaret Thatcher, it was once unthinkable that Labour would win control of Wandsworth.
The borough boasts the lowest council tax bills in London, but that was not enough for the Tories to hang on to control of the council.
Labour snatched eight seats from the Conservatives to secure control of the council.
It is seeming increasingly likely that Labour will win Wandsworth from the Conservatives for the first time in four decades.
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 Labour contingent inside the count centre are said to be in a celebratory mood, while there is a sombre atmosphere among Conservative candidates.
Maurice McLeod, who just won Labour a seat in the Battersea Park ward, told reporter Elly Blake that partygate was a key issue on the doorsteps, and that national issues have definitely played a part in tonight’s results.
Westminster and Wandsworth – down to the wire
Results in Westminster were anticipated to be declared at around 3:30am, but 30 minutes later we appear to be no closer to a declaration being made. It may still be some time before we know who controls the council, with the race “too close to call”.
Labour are increasingly confident of winning in Westminster and it is looking like a nail-biter.
Elsewhere in Wandsworth, Labour have won several key seats and spirits are high. Sadiq Khan, who ducked out early in 2018 when it became apparent his party were facing a trouncing in the borough, is still at the count and in high spirits.
Waltham Forest: Labour hold
The first results in London are in, with Labour retaining control over Waltham Forest Council. Labour gained two seats from the Conservatives to bring their total to 47. The Conservatives hang on to 13 seats on the council.
Conservative councillors hit out at Boris Johnson
A Conservative council leader has called on Boris Johnson to “take a good, strong look in the mirror” after his party lost seats in the area.
Simon Bosher, leader of the Conservative group on Portsmouth City Council, said that results in his area have been “extremely disappointing” but “not totally unexpected”. He added that local Conservatives have been “bearing the brunt on the doorstep of behaviour of what’s been going on in Westminster”.
Elsewhere, Conservative leader of Carlisle City Council John Mallinson told the BBC that Tory MPs should oust the Prime Minister. He said, “I just don’t feel people any longer have the confidence that the Prime Minister can be relied upon to tell the truth”.
Tory gains in London?
Lots has been made of Labour’s chances of taking more councils from the Tories in London, but what of those that could go the other way?
Croydon has been touted as the most likely council to swing from Labour to Conservative following controversy and financial crisis. The borough will also be electing a mayor for the first time, with the Tories hopeful of winning that vote. The results of the mayoral vote won’t be declared until Friday night, while the results of Croydon’s council elections are expected in the early hours of Saturday morning.
Another borough that could potentially turn blue is Harrow, where Labour have a slim majority. Results in Harrow are expected to be declared on Friday evening.
More whispers from Westminster
What started out as an uphill struggle for Labour is now looking more like a reality, with sources now saying the party is confident of winning seats in the Hyde Park ward of Westminster. The ward has always been held by the Conservatives, and a win for Labour would put them within touching distance of taking control of the council for the first time in its history.
Cumberland: Labour GAIN
Labour has won control of the brand-new unitary authority Cumberland Council, winning 30 seats. The Conservatives won seven seats, the Lib Dems four, independent candidates won three and the Green Party won two.
The new council will come into effect in April 2023, at which point it will take the place of the existing district councils and the county council.