How local elections could signal hung Parliament — with SNP pulling Sir Keir Starmer’s strings

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Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer joins party members in Chatham, Kent, where Labour has taken overall control of Medway Council for the first time since 1998 after winning 30 of its 59 seats. Picture date: Friday May 5, 2023. PA Photo. The Tories suffered major losses in Rishi Sunak's first electoral test as Prime Minister, with Labour claiming the results suggest Sir Keir Starmer will be able to replace him in No 10. The Liberal Democrats also made gains as the Tories lost control of a series of councils across England. See PA story POLITICS Elections. Photo credit should read: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

RISHI Sunak has taken a kicking in his first set of local elections — with Labour making gains in the Red Wall and the Lib Dems in true-blue patches of the South.

But Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer fell short of the sort of breakthrough he needed to be on target to win a majority at next year’s General Election.

Though the Tories took a kicking, Sir Keir Starmer fell short of the breakthrough needed to be on target for a majority at the next General Election

The SNP’s Westminster leader vowed to make Labour their puppets in a looming hung Parliament

The Tories took a Town Hall pasting, with more than 1,000 councillors losing their seats

And jubilant Scottish Nationalists immediately vowed to make Labour their puppets in a looming hung Parliament.

The Scots party’s Westminster leader Stephen Flynn said: “It’s increasingly clear the SNP can hold the balance of power after the next General Election — putting Scotland in prime position to pull the strings of a minority UK Government.”

In 2015, ex-SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon was shown in a Tory tweet controlling a puppet of former Labour chief Ed Miliband.

Earlier tonight, unhappy Tory MPs demanded the PM and Chancellor make tax cuts to try to lift the party’s fortunes.

The Tories took a Town Hall pasting, with more than 1,000 of their councillors losing their seats — Labour gaining over 500 and the resurgent Lib Dems more than 400.

The Greens gained more than 200.

Polling guru Sir John Curtice projected that if all Brits voted in the same way in the General Election, Labour would be the largest party on 35 per cent.

The Tories would gain a 26 per cent vote share followed by the Lib Dems on 20 — but no party will have a majority.

Sir John added: “The nine-point lead that Labour is projected to have over the Conservatives is the largest lead that the Labour Party has recorded on our measure since losing power in 2010.

“Although Labour have met the minimum threshold they set themselves, the party will be disappointed that they have not been any more successful this year than last.”

Tory party chairman Greg Hands yesterday admitted the local election results had been “disappointing”.

He added: “I know people are worried about what Labour councils will mean for their local communities.

“These local elections are a massive wake-up call. If you want to stop Keir Starmer, then we have to come together now.”

Outside Tory HQ yesterday morning, a deflated-looking Mr Sunak admitted: “It’s always disappointing to lose hard working Conservative councillors.”

But calling for calm, he added: “The message I’m hearing from people is that they want us to focus on our priorities and they want us to deliver for them.”

At a victory rally in Kent, Sir Keir — looking worried he might drop a baby he was holding — insisted his party were on course to win the next election despite scepticism from experts.

He told cheering supporters in Medway: “You didn’t just get it over the line, you blew the doors off.”

Analyst Professor Michael Thrasher agreed that projections show Labour is on track to be the largest party in Westminster after the next election, but falling short of an outright majority.

The local election results

Rishi Sunak leaves Conservative Campaign Headquarters in London as his party takes a beating in the local elections

nicole sturgeon ed miliband posterEx-SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon was previously seen in a Tory tweet controlling former Labour chief Ed Miliband

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer holds five month old Hazel (no surname given) as he joins party members in Chatham, Kent, where Labour has taken overall control of Medway Council for the first time since 1998 after winning 30 of its 59 seats in the local elections. Picture date: Friday May 5, 2023. PA Photo. The Tories suffered major losses in Rishi Sunak's first electoral test as Prime Minister, with Labour claiming the results suggest Sir Keir Starmer will be able to replace him in No 10. The Liberal Democrats also made gains as the Tories lost control of a series of councils across England. See PA story POLITICS Elections. Photo credit should read: Gareth Fuller/PA WireSir Keir looked worried he might drop a baby he was holding at a victory rally in Chatham, Kent