INITIAL results from local elections in Britain released this morning (5) showed a strong boost for prime minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party ahead of next month’s general election.
The early results, which started trickling out from 6am, showed the Tories had made strong gains, dealing a blow to Labour and all but wiping out the UK Independence Party (UKIP).
At 7 am and with a fourth of the counties declared, the Tories had control over 10 local authorities – out of 88 – with 553 seats representing a net gain of 150.
Labour had control of five authorities and 338 seats – a net loss of 119 – while UKIP had lost all their seats.
The Liberal Democrats, who had been hoping to pick up some momentum for the June vote with gain in the local elections, had so far lost 29 seats.
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell, the right-hand man of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, said the results were not “the wipeout people had expected”.
He also insisted that the party would do better than expected in next month’s parliamentary vote, telling Sky News “once we launch our manifesto, you’ll see the whole campaign begin to turn the tide”.
Voters across England, Scotland and Wales went to the polls yesterday (4) to choose nearly 5,000 new local councillors, in the shadow of campaigning for the surprise June 8 general election and a debate over Britain’s impending departure from the European Union (EU).
While local issues are usually the main influence in such polls, May’s decision last month to call a snap general election ensured her own record and Brexit would be on voters’ minds yesterday.
The Conservatives already have a strong lead in the polls ahead of the June vote, with a YouGov poll of 2,066 adults on Tuesday (3) and Wednesday (4) for The Times newspaper putting the ruling party on 48 per cent.
Labour are on 29 per cent, followed by the Liberal Democrats on 10 and the UK Independence Party on five ahead of the general election.