Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer has admitted the local election results were “not good” for the Conservatives, but insists Rishi Sunak is “starting to deliver in a quiet way for the British people”.
Her party lost more than a thousand seats after voters went to the polls across England, seeing Labour take over as the largest party in local government for the first time in more than 20 years.
The minister told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme that people were “angry and frustrated” with the government, and were finding the rising cost of living “difficult”.
But she blamed the long period the Tories have had in government, the impact of the pandemic and the fallout of the Ukraine war for the poor electoral performance, rather than Mr Sunak and his policies.
“I totally recognise we’ve had a really difficult few years,” she said. “[But] I do think that the prime minister, who’s been in office for six months, is getting the country back on track and is delivering, and I think we’re starting to gain the trust of the British public.”
Meanwhile, Labour’s Wes Streeting said his party was “confident but not complacent” after Thursday’s results, which saw them gain over 500 seats and control of another 22 councils.
The shadow health secretary told Sophy Ridge: “I think those results do point to enormous progress made under [Sir] Keir Starmer’s leadership.
“He’s changed the Labour Party – now he’s got a hearing to be able to change the country. But there’s more to do.”
Mr Streeting promised the party would be setting out more of its big “missions” in the coming weeks, including its plans to tackle issues in the NHS and education.
But while he insisted Labour would “win the next general election”, he did not rule out entering a coalition with the Liberal Democrats when pushed, instead saying he was “not entertaining the prospect”.
The shadow minister added: “This is a process, not an event. We’re not at the final destination yet in terms of the general election.”
The Lib Dems had a successful night on Thursday too, with more than 400 seat gains and control of an additional 12 councils under their belts.
Deputy leader Daisy Cooper told Sophy Ridge it was “a record breaking set of results for us, and we really exceed all of our own expectation“.
And she pointed to some of the key areas in the so-called “Blue Wall” where the party was making an impact, insisting the Lib Dems could turn local electoral success into wins at the general election.
“This weekend there’ll be a number of the Conservative big beasts, Michael Gove, Jeremy Hunt, former Prime Minister Theresa May, even Nadhim Zahawi, who will have woken up to having a Liberal Democrat run council,” she said.
“And they’ll be looking over their shoulder knowing that we’re coming for their parliamentary seats at the next general election.”