UK Conservatives gain in local election; Labour, UKIP sink

Theresa May's Conservatives performed strongly in British local elections, early results showed Friday, handing the prime minister a boost ahead of next month's Brexit-dominated parliamentary polls.

Another analyst, Prof. Michael Thrasher, told Sky News: "Ukip received one in eight votes cast at the 2015 general election, and, therefore, those votes are absolutely critical in a month's time at the general election".

Despite its gains, the Conservatives have attempted to downplay their significance as a guide to the outcome of the general election on 8 June.

They have repeatedly warned Britain that its decision to exit the European Union would have dire consequences and cost London dearly.

May's Conservatives now boast a runaway lead of around 48 points, according to the latest opinion poll by Kantar research firm, while support for Jeremy Corbyn's Labour stood unmoved at 24 percent.

At 2 a.m., with 452 seats out of 4,851 declared, the Conservatives had won 227 - a net gain of 69 - while Labour had secured 108, for a loss of 37.

UKIP deputy chairwoman Suzanne Evans acknowledged the party faces a "difficult dilemma".

Tories were celebrating historic gains across the country, picking up more than 450 councillors and gaining control of 10 authorities as they made deep inroads into parts of Scotland and Wales which had been no-go areas for a generation.

The Conservatives gained control of seven councils in England and Wales, such as Lincolnshire and Monmouthshire, and are also making ground in Scotland as Labour fades. North of the border, the headline result is that Labour have lost overall control of Glasgow council for the first time in 40 years, with the SNP usurping them.

It failed to break through against the Conservatives in southwest England but in some General Election target seats, such as Eastleigh and Wells, it made gains.

UKIP local government spokesman Peter Reeve said the party had always expected a "very tough" set of elections, defending seats won in its breakthrough year of 2013. In Derbyshire, the Tories took 19 seats from Labour as the county passed directly from one party's hands to the other.

For Ukip, it was an unqualified disaster, which could herald the end of the anti-EU party, which now has no MPs and a handful of councillors and will have no MEPs after Brexit.

"If there is an increasingly confrontational attitude between Westminster and Brussels, the [local election] results today suggest that Theresa May is the political victor domestically of that process", said Al Jazeera's Phillips. "We've gained seats in some places, we've held councils that many people predicted we wouldn't".

In reponse to the local election results the PM said she was still "taking nothing for granted" in the upcoming general election.

One-time party leadership contender Steven Woolfe admitted he would now vote Conservative over Ukip, while a tweet from defector MP Douglas Carswell indicated his former party had served its objective and it was now time to "go home".

Elections were also held for eight regional mayoral posts in England, six of them newly created. Street called his win the start of a "new, urban Conservative agenda". The Conservative James Palmer became the first mayor for the Cambridge and Peterborough region.

Labour did win the mayoral contests in the northern English cities of Doncaster and Liverpool. "It has been too London-centric for too long".

  • Leroy Wright