Conservative Andy Street loses to Labour in West Midlands mayoral race in blow to Rishi Sunak

Tory incumbent Andy Street has suffered a shock defeat to Labour in the West Midlands mayoral election after a partial recount was ordered.

Labour's Richard Parker beat Mr Street by just 1,508 votes - 0.25% - to deliver a major blow to Rishi Sunak in the key electoral battleground after a hammering in the local elections.

With the race neck-and-neck, in the end it came down to the results in one borough - Labour-supporting Sandwell.

"This is the most important thing I will ever do," Mr Parker said in his acceptance speech.

"I promise you that I will deliver jobs," he added.

He told Sky News he would take buses "back into public control" and deliver the "largest programme of social housing we've had in this region for more than 40 years".

And he thanked his predecessor, who he said had "led this region through a number of great challenges and you deserve great credit for that".

Mr Street told Sky News he was "personally devastated", had "put my all into this", and "genuinely believed we were making real progress across the region".

He said it was "my campaign, totally", adding: "I'm not going to try to push responsibility anywhere else. There'll be no sloping shoulders from me."

He wished his successor "all strength and wisdom".

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: "This is a phenomenally important set of elections - the last set of elections before we go to that general election.

"We had to prove that we were making progress - we've shown that we're making progress."

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The mayoral election results

Ellie Reeves, Labour's deputy national campaign co-ordinator, said it was a "significant victory".

She added: "Right across the country people have voted for change and the message is clear - it's time for a general election and a Labour government to get our country's future back."

Labour's Sadiq Khan has secured a historic third term as London mayor with a convincing win over Conservative rival Susan Hall.

Rishi Sunak said it had been "disappointing to lose dedicated Conservative councillors and Andy Street in the West Midlands".

But he insisted that "we as a nation are turning a corner".

The prime minister said: "Our plan is working with inflation more than halved, tax cuts worth an average of £900 hitting people's pockets, state pensions protected with our triple lock, our Rwanda bill signed into law, allowing us to start detaining illegal migrants ready for the first flights, legal migration down and defence spending boosted."

Nevertheless, these results will increase pressure on Mr Sunak, who had been hoping for a repeat of the success enjoyed by Conservative Ben Houchen who held on as the mayor of Tees Valley.

Sam Coates, Sky News's deputy political editor, said he had seen messages from Conservative MPs' WhatsApp group.

One, from former cabinet minister Simon Clarke, whom Coates said "wants Rishi Sunak to leave", said: "These results are awful and should be a massive wake-up call.

"If we fight the same campaign in a few months [in the general election] we'll get the same outcome or rather worse.

"Reform UK standing more candidates will cause greater damage."

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The loss of either the Teesside or West Midlands mayoralties would give Tory rebels who want to change leader a "huge amount of fuel", former Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said in the Electoral Dysfunction podcast.

Mr Street, who was seeking a third term in office, sought to distance himself from the Conservative brand during his campaign and instead ran on a personal platform.

Sky News recently revealed that Mr Street was sending out election literature with an endorsement from former prime minister Boris Johnson which urged people to "forget about the government".

His campaign website also made no mention of Mr Sunak on its homepage and was coloured in green rather than Conservative blue.