Cabinet ministers Grant Shapps and Alex Chalk first Tory leaders to lose their seats

    The Hawk
    July5/ 2024
    Last Updated:

    The Conservative Party is facing its lowest-ever total number of seats, signaling the end of Sunak’s premiership.

    British Defence Secretary Grant Shapps

    London: Defence Secretary Grant Shapps and Justice Secretary Alex Chalk early on Friday became the first senior Conservative leaders in Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's Cabinet to lose their seats in the UK general election.

    The outcome of the poll so far predicts a disastrous night for the Conservative Party, forecasting its lowest-ever total number of seats and bringing an end to Sunak’s premiership.

    Shapps lost to Labour in Welwyn Hatfield while Chalk was defeated in Cheltenham by Liberal Democrat candidate Max Wilkinson, The Independent newspaper reported.

    Shapps in his concession speech hit out at the Conservative “indulgence” that appears to have cost them the election, saying voters do not back divided parties.

    While a key figure in the Tory party for decades, having been appointed vice-chairman in 2005, it was after the 2019 election win that Shapps became higher-profile in the government.

    Shapps, 55, held five Cabinet positions since then – from the roles of transport secretary and home secretary to energy security secretary as well as business secretary, and most recently defence secretary.

    After a short-lived Tory leadership bid in 2022, Shapps became a major backer of Liz Truss’s rival Sunak in that contest.

    Shapps oversaw the transport department during the Covid-19 pandemic and the ensuing airport chaos as travel resumed, facing criticism for failing to engage with unions over industrial action.

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    Shapps, who has lost to Labour in Welwyn Hatfield, said it was “clear tonight that Britain will have a new government in the morning’’.

    “What is crystal clear to me tonight, is that it is not so much that Labour won this election, but that the Conservatives have lost it," he added.

    “Door after door, voters have been dismayed by our inability to iron out our differences in private and then be united in public." “Instead, we have tried the patience of traditional Conservative voters with a propensity to create an endless political soap opera out of internal rivalries and divisions which have become increasingly entrenched," he said.

    “Today, voters have simply said, ‘If you can’t agree with each other, we can’t agree to vote for you'." “We forgot a fundamental rule of politics, that people do not vote for divided parties.” According to the exit poll, which is often quite close to the final tally, Labour could win as many as 410 seats, comfortably crossing the halfway 326 mark and notching up a 170-seat majority with the incumbent Tories led by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak down to just 131 seats.

    Leader of the House of Commons Penny Mordaunt, 51, has narrowly lost in her now former Portsmouth North constituency.

    Traditionally a bellwether seat, Labour's Amanda Martin has won with 14,495 votes, to Mordaunt's 13,715 - an 18 per cent swing, the BBC reported.

    Her defeat will be a blow to moderate Conservatives who are hoping to wrest control of the party away from its populist wing, according to media reports.