Sadiq Khan wins third term as London mayor, capping strong showing for Labour in English local elections

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Sadiq Khan has won a third term as London’s mayor, capping a round of local elections across England that confirmed the political supremacy of the Labour Party and spelt misery for Britain’s Conservative government.

Khan won 43.7% of the vote, beating Conservative challenger Susan Hall by about 11 percentage points to extend his control of the capital that began in 2016.

It follows a string of victories around England for Labour, who are firmly positioned to take power from Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his Conservatives in a general election in the coming months.

The Conservatives lost control of 10 local councils and nearly 500 councilors on Thursday, suffering an electoral drubbing at the hands of the public that virtually everyone – including those within the party – had expected.

Labour leader Keir Starmer told reporters on Saturday: “I am sorry, I don’t care which political party you support, if you leave your country in a worse state than when you found it 14 years later, you do not deserve to be in Government for a moment longer.”

But Sunak likely found enough slender scraps of success to withstand a challenge to his leadership, which rebellious Tories had threatened depending on the outcome of Thursday’s elections.

The party was hoping to keep hold of the mayoral position in the West Midlands on Saturday, after previously holding the same position in the Tees Valley, giving the increasingly beleaguered Sunak something to seize onto as he looks to at least unify his lawmakers in Westminster.

Thursday’s polls marked a final dry run before the general election, which must take place by January. Sunak has resisted calls to outline when he will hold that vote, and Labour leads opinion polls by a huge margin.

Starmer’s opposition party won control of eight councils, and also stormed to victory on Thursday in a Westminster by-election in Blackpool.

The results confirmed the conventional polling narrative that the group is on track to win power, though Labour could not quite pull off the barnstorming red wave that some in the party had hoped for, falling short in some of the trickiest contests it faced.

And there were indications too that discontent among the party’s position on Israel’s war in Gaza hurt Labour among voters in areas with large Muslim populations. In particular the loss of Oldham council, a north-west English town, where around a quarter of the population is Muslim.

“We do recognise the strength of feeling that there is and of course we will continue to work just as we do in every area across the country to earn votes back in future,” Labour’s shadow Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper, told the BBC.

If his victory is confirmed, Khan would become the first mayor of London to serve a third term since the post was created in 2000.

The city, home to nine million people, is more multicultural, liberal and pro-European than the UK as a whole, leading Khan to occasionally clash with successive Labour leaders, especially over the issue of Brexit.

He has prioritised emissions-cutting policies in an effort to shed the city’s reputation as a major polluter, and made international headlines during a long-running public spat with former US President Donald Trump during his administration.

But critics have attacked Khan’s record on knife crime and his recent expansion of a world-first low-emissions zone, which the Conservatives said would hit poorer families in outer London the hardest.

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