Boris Johnson will reshuffle his cabinet before the summer recess, according to allies of the prime minister.
Following dismal local election results for the Conservatives allies of the prime minister have indicated a reshuffle is not imminent.
However, they told Sky News Mr Johnson is expected to change his top team before the summer recess, which is currently set to begin on 21 July.
The Conservatives lost nearly 500 seats in England, Wales and Scotland in Thursday’s council elections, with partygate and the cost of living crisis cited by local leaders as key issues on the doorstep.
Tories lose nearly 500 seats – elections live
Sky News analysis suggests if the result was replicated at a general election, the Conservatives would lose their Commons majority.
As of 11.30am on Saturday, with 197 out of 200 councils declared, the Tories had lost 12 councils and 481 councillors while Labour gained six councils, the Lib Dems five, and the SNP one.
Mr Johnson admitted it had been a “tough night” for his party in the first test at the ballot box since he was fined for breaking lockdown rules.
“We’ve had a tough night in some parts of the country, but on the other hand, in other parts of the country, you’re still seeing Conservatives going forward and making quite remarkable gains,” he said.
Some Tory MPs have blamed the PM for the losses while Labour and the Lib Dems have been celebrating their wins.
Check the result where you live
But Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi brushed off the losses as he told Sky News it was all part of dealing with a midterm vote and insisted Boris Johnson was still an electoral asset.
“If you look at the way that Boris cuts through in places like Nuneaton, places like Newcastle-under-Lyme, other parts of the country as well – Harrow in London,” he said.
In a message to Tory colleagues, he added: “People don’t like to vote for split parties, for teams that are divided.
“We are strongest when we are united, we’ve got a Queen’s Speech next week where we will demonstrate to the nation that the second half of this parliament is all about dealing with repairing the economy, recovering from COVID, the backlog of the NHS and national security – here at home, safer streets – and, of course, abroad.
“All of these things we have a plan for. We are stronger when we are united and that would be my message to all my colleagues.”
It was not all doom and gloom for the Tories though as they took control of the London borough of Harrow and consolidated its grip in Nuneaton – an area that will be a key general election battleground.
In Wales, the Conservatives lost ground to Labour and the Lib Dems; while the SNP enjoyed yet another triumph in Scotland with Labour pushing the Tories into third place.
Beergate and Labour’s London success
Labour took control in former Tory strongholds such as the London boroughs of Westminster and Wandsworth, as well as snapping up Southampton and Worthing on the south coast.
But their success was not replicated in parts of the Midlands and the North, where they need to recover seats taken by the Tories in Mr Johnson’s landslide 2019 general election victory.
Labour’s electoral success was also tarnished after Durham police announced that they would investigate whether leader Sir Keir Starmer broke COVID rules while drinking with colleagues in April 2021.
Sir Keir has said there was no party and he is “confident no rules were broken” during the episode, which has been dubbed “beergate”.
The Labour leader remained upbeat though, saying the results represented a “massive turning point for the Labour Party” while a party spokesman said the results were “shattering” for the Conservatives and were a rejection of Mr Johnson.
“From the depths in 2019 we are back on track now for the general election, showing what the change that we’ve done, the hard change that we’ve done in the last two years, what a difference it has made,” Sir Keir said.
Lib Dems see ‘a real trend’
The Liberal Democrats enjoyed success in councils across the country from Somerset to Hull.
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey said the PM was facing an “almighty shockwave that will bring this Conservative government tumbling down”.
Speaking to Sky News’ Kay Burley, he insisted Lib Dem gains were not protest votes against the government but “a real trend now” – partly because the Tories are “failing so badly”.