Rishi Sunak shouldered the burden for a “sobering verdict” at the General Election, as competing Tory factions began their battle over the diminished party’s future.

The outgoing Prime Minister said it had been a “difficult night” and apologised to Conservative candidates who had lost their seats, as he held onto his own Richmond and Northallerton constituency.

Mr Sunak’s apology was echoed by Suella Braverman, but the Tory leadership challenger was sorry for her party’s record in Government, suggesting it had not listened enough to the electorate.

Elsewhere, former justice Sir Robert Buckland warned that a lurch to the right would be “disastrous” for the party after he lost his Swindon South seat.

Speaking at Northallerton leisure centre after his result came in, Mr Sunak said: “The British people have delivered a sobering verdict tonight, there is much to learn… and I take responsibility for the loss.

“To the many good, hard-working Conservative candidates who lost tonight, despite their tireless efforts, their local records and delivery, and their dedication to their communities. I am sorry.”

Among the Cabinet ministers to lose their seats overnight were Defence Secretary Grant Shapps and Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt to Labour, and Justice Secretary Alex Chalk, Education Secretary Gillian Keegan and Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer to the Liberal Democrats.

Liz Truss, who during her short time in Downing Street oversaw the disastrous mini-budget that spooked markets, lost her Norfolk South West seat, which she won with a thumping 26,200 majority in 2019, to Labour.

Jeremy Hunt won the Godalming and Ash seat in Surrey despite a threat from the Liberal Democrats.

The outgoing Chancellor said the Conservatives’ “crushing” defeat was a “bitter pill to swallow” for the party.

Former home secretary Suella Braverman was elected to the new constituency of Fareham and Waterlooville.

She said “I’m sorry” twice during her victory speech.

“I’m sorry that my party didn’t listen to you,” she said.

“(The) Conservative Party has let you down. You – the Great British people voted for us over 14 years and we did not keep our promises.

“We’ve acted as if we’re entitled to your vote regardless of what we did, regardless of what we didn’t do, despite promising time after time that we would do those things and we need to learn our lesson because if we don’t, bad as tonight has been for my party, we’ll have many worse nights to come.”