Grim outlook for Rishi Sunak as Tories hit by election

  • By Chris Mason
  • Political Editor, BBC News

There has been a lot of noise and a lot of numbers.

And, for many of us, we don’t get much sleep.

And there are still more results to come this weekend.

But how are things going now?

First, terrible election results are becoming a dangerous habit for conservatives.

There were the local elections last year.

Several by elections since then.

The outlook for Rishi Sunak has been consistently bleak.

If his tenure as Prime Minister set out two objectives: stabilizing the course of the government and reviving the fortunes of the Conservatives, it is fair to say that he achieved the first of them.

It pulls several political levers. Present ideas with passion. And they seem to make virtually no difference to his fate or that of his party.

In contrast, and further darkening the Tories’ mood, is Labour’s relatively newfound ability to win where they need to win in a general election.

They used to be pretty good at accumulating a lot of votes in places where they already won, and not enough votes in places where they didn’t.

That seems to be changing.

Surprisingly, however, there are no signs, at least at least, that this will spark a Conservative insurrection against the prime minister.

Because? Because the results for them are grim, but perhaps no grimmer than feared.

video subtitles, Watch: Local elections in England and Wales… in 60 seconds

One senior figure suggested Tory MPs were “remarkably cold”.

A former cabinet minister said the results were “not catastrophic”, although he also tacitly accepted that they pointed to a likely general election defeat.

Labor is confident in exactly that: that these results suggest that they are on track to obtain a majority when the entire country goes to the polls.

Liberal Democrats see evidence of their ability to capitalize on the Tories’ problem; Reform the UK too.

And the trend of a steady rise of the Green Party in local politics continues.

In essence, these results consolidate the status quo: a buoyant Labor Party, the Tories taciturn, the smaller parties cheerful.

This brings us to the bigger picture: yes, the Conservatives are in dire straits and Labor are in a strong position.

But remember, the Labor Party must do surprisingly well in any historical comparison to win a general election, and that remains the case.

It is this central fact – as well as the relative fortunes of the parties – that will shape the conversation between now and the general election.