Sunak accepts responsibility for historic Tory defeat

Rishi Sunak has said he accepts responsibility for the Conservative Party’s historic general election defeat.

Sir Keir Starmer has led the Labour Party to a landslide victory and will take over from Mr Sunak as the UK’s prime minister.

Mr Sunak told supporters: “The British people have delivered a sobering verdict tonight, there is much to learn… and I take responsibility for the loss.”

Speaking in central London, Sir Keir said “change begins now”, adding “it feels good, I have to be honest”.

With more than 500 out of 650 seats declared, Labour is projected to form the next government, with a majority of 166.

The Tories are set for the worst result in their history. They have lost more than 170 seats and are forecast to be left with just 136 MPs.

Sir Keir told cheering Labour supporters the country was waking up to the “the sunlight of hope” which was “shining once again on a country with the opportunity after 14 years to get its future back”.

He added: “Now we can look forward – walk into the morning.”

Reform UK leader Nigel Farage won a seat in Parliament at his eighth attempt, in Clacton, promising “this is just the first step of something that is going to stun all of you”.

Reform has four MPs so far – including chairman Richard Tice and former Tory Lee Anderson – and has finished second in many parts of the country, taking large amounts of votes from the Conservatives.

The Scottish National Party is now forecast to be reduced to just eight MPs, as Labour regains dominance in Scotland.

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps, Commons leader Penny Mordaunt and former minister Sir Jacob-Rees Mogg are among the senior Tories to lose their seats.

The Liberal Democrats are benefitting from a collapse in Tory support and are predicted to get 66 MPs – the best result in their history.

Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has defeated his old party to retain his Islington North seat as an independent.

But another high profile former Labour MP, George Galloway, failed to retain the Rochdale seat he won at a by-election in February, losing to Labour’s Paul Waugh.

Carla Denyer, of the Green Party of England and Wales, has beaten Labour in Bristol Central and her co-leader Adrian Ramsay beat the Conservatives in Waveney Valley, doubling their number of MPs with hopes of more to come.

Sir Keir Starmer’s predicted landslide would be short of the 179 majority won by Tony Blair in 1997, with its vote share across the country up by just 2%, largely thanks to big gains in Scotland, according to polling expert Sir John Curtice.

But it will mean a Labour prime minister in Downing Street for the first time since 2010 and a battle for the future direction of the Conservatives if, as seems likely, Rishi Sunak stands down as leader.

Penny Mordaunt, who lost to Labour by just 780 votes, had been tipped to make another attempt to be Tory leader after the election.

Conceding defeat, she said her party had lost because it “had failed to honour the trust people had placed in it.”

Former attorney general Sir Robert Buckland, the first Tory MP to lose his seat as results began rolling in, told the BBC his party was facing “electoral Armageddon” and Labour’s likely victory was a “big vote for change”.

And he angrily lashed out at colleagues, such as former home secretary Suella Braverman, for what he called “spectacularly unprofessional and ill-disciplined” behaviour during the campaign.

“I’m fed up of personal agendas and jockeying for position,” he added, warning that the upcoming Tory leadership contest was “going to be like a group of bald men arguing over a comb”.

The SNP is “not winning that argument” on Scottish independence, said First Minister John Swinney.

“Opinion polls still show that about half the population in Scotland want our country to be independent,” he told the BBC.

“That’s not manifested itself in the election result tonight and that’s something we’ve got to look at very carefully as a party and to think about how we can remedy that situation.”


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