Mordaunt, Shapps and five more ministers lose seats in cull of Tory big beasts

Mordaunt, Shapps and five more ministers lose seats in cull of Tory big beasts

A record-equalling seven cabinet ministers have lost their seats as Rishi Sunak’s government faces a general election bloodbath.

Johnny Mercer, Grant Shapps, Gillian Keegan, Lucy Frazer, Penny Mordaunt and Alex Chalk are all among the Tory big beasts who have fallen as Sir Keir Starmer charts a course to a huge Labour landslide.

Defence secretary Mr Shapps has lost to Labour in Welwyn Hatfield while leader of the Commons Ms Mordaunt was defeated in Portsmouth North by the party. Veterans minister Johnny Mercer has been defeated by Labour in Plymouth Moor View.

Penny Mordaunt was among the high profile figures to lose their seats (Sky)

Justice secretary Mr Chalk was defeated in Cheltenham to Liberal Democrat candidate Max Wilkinson and education secretary Ms Keegan has also been beaten heavily by the Liberal Democrats in Chichester. Ms Frazer, the culture secretary, loset her Ely and East Cambridgeshire seat to the Liberal Democrats.

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In his concession speech, Mr Shapps hit out at the Conservative “indulgence” that appears to have cost them the election, saying voters do not back divided parties. And in her own concession speech, Ms Mordaunt said the party had taken “a battering”.

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 Mr Shapps became higher-profile in Government.

He has 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.

Grant Shapps was one of the first big beasts to fall (James Shaw/Shutterstock)

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

Mr Shapps is said to have recorded Tory colleagues’ doubts about Ms Truss in a running spreadsheet, wielded on a pricey foldable smartphone.

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

The exit poll put Sir Keir Starmer on course to complete one of the most remarkable turnarounds in British political history forecasting a huge Labour victory that will sweep him into Downing Street with a majority of 170.

As polling stations closed at 10pm, the exit poll predicted that Labour will win 410 seats, the Tories 131, the Lib Dems 61, Reform 13 and the SNP 10. Outside the cabinet, Tory former deputy prime minister Dame Therese Coffey has been defeated by Labour in Suffolk Coastal.

Gillian Keegan has also been shown the door by the electorate (Sky)

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

He added: “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.

“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.

“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.”

Alex Chalk has also lost his seat (Getty Images)

In a stunning upset, Ms Keegan secured only 13,368 votes, with Lib Dem candidate Jess Brown-Fuller on 25,514. And Ms Mordaunt, who was a frontrunner for the Tory leadership after the election, was beaten by around 1,000 votes by her Labour rival. She won 13,715 votes, while Labour’s Amanda Martin won 14,495.

In a concession speech during which she was on the brink of tears, Ms Mordaunt said: “Tonight, the Conservative Party has taken a battering because it failed to honour the trust that people had placed in it.

“You can speak all you like of security and freedom, but you can’t have either if you are afraid, afraid about the cost of living or accessing healthcare, or whether the responsibility you shoulder will be recognised and rewarded, that fear steals the future and it only makes the present matter, and that is why we lost.”