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The Conservatives are on track for their worst local election results ever – as counting continues.

In a strong night for Labour, the party has taken control of a string of Leave-voting councils and won the Blackpool South by-election.

It’s a bleaker outlook for the Tories, who in some areas have been pushed into third place by Reform UK.

Follow live: Keir Starmer hails ‘seismic’ Blackpool South by-election win

As the count continues, here’s what you need to know about where the major parties stand.

Labour

With a third of council results in at first light on Friday, “what is clear is Labour is on the march“, according to Sky News’ political correspondent Tamara Cohen.

Labour won the Blackpool South by-election. Labour candidate Chris Webb will become the area’s new MP, taking over from former Conservative member Scott Benton.

While the result had been largely expected, Sir Keir Starmer hailed Labour’s 58.9% vote share as a “seismic” victory and called it the “most important” result of Thursday’s elections.

Sky News’ chief political correspondent Jon Craig said that assessment was right: “After all, this was a parliamentary election, not the pavements and potholes of town hall elections, and produced a damning verdict on Rishi Sunak and his government.”

Labour won Rushmoor in Hampshire from the Conservatives for the first time and also gained Redditch from the Tories.

In a blow to Labour, it lost Oldham to no overall control.

Hartlepool and Thurrock were both gained by Labour from no overall control.

Labour held on to Sunderland Council and kept control of South Tyneside, Chorley and Newcastle.

The party replaced the Tories as the largest party on Peterborough Council which, while remaining under no overall control, saw the Conservatives lose 13 of the 16 seats they were defending.

Labour lost seats in some of its more traditional areas where there is a high Muslim population, such as Newcastle, with critics putting the failures down to the party’s positioning on the conflict in Gaza.

Conservatives

The results overnight showed the Conservatives are “in serious trouble“, with what could be “one of the party’s worst ever performances”, according to Sky News’ election analyst Professor Michael Thrasher.

The Conservative vote was down most – versus 2021 – in areas that voted Leave in the 2016 Brexit referendum.

The Conservatives managed to keep control of Harlow in Essex by a single seat, bucking predictions it would swing to Labour.

Sir Keir Starmer had visited the constituency multiple times, in a clear sign of its importance. The Tories said the result showed there was “no love” for the Labour leader.

The party also held on to Fareham in Hampshire.

The Conservatives lost control of North East Lincolnshire after Labour won five of the seats up for grabs – with neither party now holding a majority on the council.

Reform UK

Reform UK is performing well, racking up an average vote share of between 14% and 15%.

The party has pushed the Conservatives into third place in some areas, including Sunderland.

However, it isn’t fielding candidates everywhere – instead targeting Leave seats where its predecessors, the Brexit Party and UKIP, performed well – and has yet to win a seat or council for itself.

“Close comparisons of change in vote share demonstrate that support for Reform is real and will hurt the Conservatives if played out at the next general election,” Prof Thrasher said.

Lib Dems

Despite losing a seat, the Liberal Democrats kept control of Gosport council.

They also retained control in Winchester, Eastleigh and Fareham.

Greens

The Greens have gained 13 councillors, more than doubling their tally of seats in councils that have counted already.

The party won a number of seats from Labour in Newcastle although Labour retained control.

Police and crime commissioner elections

In total, 37 police and crime commissioners are being elected across England and Wales – although two of those PCC roles are being absorbed into a mayor’s responsibilities, in South Yorkshire and York & North Yorkshire.

The first results came in overnight and more are expected from lunchtime on Friday, with the last results not due until 4pm on Sunday.

When can we expect more results?

There have not been any mayoral results yet, with some expected on Friday and the London outcome to be announced Saturday.

Labour‘s Sadiq Khan is hoping to win a record third term as the mayor of London, running against the Conservative’s Susan Hall, with 25 seats on the London Assembly also up for grabs.

More councils will start declaring around Friday lunchtime after daytime counting picks up in the morning.

The results for most councils will be in by Friday night.

Salford is the final council due to declare on Sunday afternoon.

Follow our live coverage of the election results throughout the weekend – find the full details here.

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‘I was told this was a wonder drug but not warned about the deathly consequences’: 100 faces of infected blood scandal

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'I was told this was a wonder drug but not warned about the deathly consequences': 100 faces of infected blood scandal

“Losing Gary, my soul mate, was beyond painful,” says Kathryn Croucher, whose husband died aged 42 in 2010.

“Every day was a struggle dealing with the knowledge he was HIV and Hepatitis C positive.”

“Mum always said she was given a death sentence,” recalls Ronan Fitzgerald. His mother, Jane, died aged 54 after being infected with Hepatitis C when she was 16. “It was a ticking time bomb.”

Updates:
Scandal was ‘not an accident’
Follow reaction to report live

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The faces of the infected blood scandal.

More than 30,000 Britons were infected with HIV and Hepatitis C after being given contaminated blood products in the 1970s and 1980s.

Around 3,000 people have died as a result of the scandal, while many more still live under the shadow of health problems, debilitating treatments and stigma. Now, the findings of a public inquiry, first announced in 2017, will finally be published.

These are 100 faces of infected blood victims that either they, or their families, have shared with Sky News.

Click the images to read their stories.

Sky News will have full coverage of the infected blood report on TV, online and on the Sky News app today.

Infected blood inquiry Sky News promo image

Sky News would like to thank everyone who contributed to this project.

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Julian Assange wins High Court bid to bring appeal against extradition to US

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Julian Assange wins High Court bid to bring appeal against extradition to US

Julian Assange will be allowed to appeal against his extradition to the United States.

Two judges responded today to US assurances that Mr Assange will not face the death penalty – and can rely on the First Amendment right to free speech if he faced a trial for spying.

The WikiLeaks founder faces prosecution in the US over an alleged conspiracy to obtain and disclose national defence information after the publication of hundreds of thousands of leaked documents relating to the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in 2017. Pic: Reuters
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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in 2017. Pic: Reuters

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in a police van after being arrested in London in 2019. Pic: Reuters
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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in a police van after being arrested in London in 2019. Pic: Reuters

Edward Fitzgerald KC, representing Assange, criticised the assurances of Joe Biden’s US administration at the hearing. He said: “Based on the principle of the separation of powers, the US court can and will apply US law, whatever the executive may say or do.”

He added most of the promises were “blatantly inadequate” – but they had accepted the promise about the death penalty.

In written submissions, the barrister said while the assurance over the death penalty was “an unambiguous executive promise”, the other assurance does not give “any reliable promise as to future action”.

The barrister added: “What needs to be conclusively removed is the risk that he will be prevented from relying on the first amendment on grounds of nationality.”

But James Lewis KC, representing the US government, insisted the “judicial branch of the United States will take due notice of this solemn assurance given by its government in the course of international relations”.

In written submissions, he said there is “no question” that Assange, if extradited, “will be entitled to the full panoply of due process trial rights, including the right to raise, and seek to rely upon, the first amendment as a defence”.

He later told the court: “The assurance does make it clear that he will not be discriminated against because of his nationality.

“He can and will be able to raise all those arguments and his nationality will not prejudice a fair trial.”

Today’s decision is the latest chapter in 13 years of legal battles and detentions for Australian-born Mr Assange.

A woman attends a protest outside the High Court on the day of an extradition hearing of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, in London, Britain, May 20, 2024. REUTERS/Maja Smiejkowska
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Supporters of Mr Assange have been gathering outside the High Court. Pic: Reuters

A police officers looks on near a placard outside of the Royal Court of Justice.
Pic: Reuters
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Pic: Reuters

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The US authorities want to put Mr Assange on trial over 18 charges, nearly all under the Espionage Act.

They claim his actions with WikiLeaks were reckless, damaged national security, and endangered the lives of agents.

During a two-day hearing in February, lawyers for Mr Assange asked for permission to challenge a judge’s dismissal of the majority of his case to prevent his extradition.

In March, Dame Victoria Sharp and Mr Justice Johnson dismissed most of Mr Assange’s legal arguments – but said unless assurances were given by the US, he would be able to bring an appeal on three grounds.

These assurances are that Assange would be protected by and allowed to rely on the First Amendment – which protects freedom of speech in the US – that he is not “prejudiced at trial” due to his nationality, and that the death penalty is not imposed.

People attend a protest outside the High Court 
Pic: Reuters
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Pic: Reuters

People attend a protest outside the High Court
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Pic: Reuters

Supporters of Mr Assange have already been gathering outside the High Court to continue their calls for his release.

Mr Assange is currently being held in London’s high security Belmarsh prison.

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Hunt for two suspects after man dies in Glasgow stabbing

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Hunt for two suspects after man dies in Glasgow stabbing

Detectives are on the hunt for two men following a fatal stabbing in Glasgow at the weekend.

Police Scotland said the force received a report of a man being attacked and stabbed in Saracen Street, Possil, at around 5pm on Saturday.

Emergency services attended and took the 27-year-old victim to the city’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, where he later died.

The death is being treated as “suspicious” ahead of the completion of a post-mortem examination.

Investigating officers have since established that two men were involved in the attack.

The suspects have been described as white and in their 30s.

One was wearing a light-blue top and black shorts, while the other was dressed in a white top, black shorts and black trainers.

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Officers have been gathering and reviewing CCTV footage from in and around the neighbourhood as the probe continues.

Additional patrols have also been mobilised to the area, and anyone with information or concerns can approach these officers.

Read more from Sky News:
The stories behind 100 victims of infected blood scandal
Probe launched after man dies in police custody

Detective Inspector Lesley-Ann McGee said: “It was a warm, sunny day and there were lots of people out enjoying the weather in Saracen.

“I am asking them to get in touch with us with any information that could assist us in establishing the motive for this attack. If you saw, heard or know anything please contact us.

“I’m also asking people with dashcam or doorbell recording equipment to check for any footage that could assist our investigation.

“A family is mourning the loss of a loved one and it’s imperative we are able to answer how their loved one died.”

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