In Brief

Local election results: Brexit backlash for Tories and Labour

Liberal Democrats are ‘the big winners’ as the two main parties lose seats

The Conservatives and Labour have taken a beating in the local elections, with smaller parties and independents taking seats across the country.

Projections suggest that the Conservatives could be down by as many as 800 seats after they lost control in Peterborough, Basildon, Southend, Worcester, St Albans and Tandridge. By dawn, they had surrendered control of 13 councils with the loss of more than 250 seats.

Labour have also struggled. By 6am, the party had lost more than 60 seats and control of three councils - Hartlepool, Wirral and Bolsover. It lost the mayoralty in Middlesbrough, where its vote was down by 11%. It also shed ten seats in its traditional stronghold of Sunderland.

By contrast, the Liberal Democrats are on course for a strong performance, with predictions that the party could make as many as 500 gains. 

It has gained control of five councils, in North Norfolk, Bath and North East Somerset, Winchester, Chelmsford, Hinckley and Bosworth, and Cotswold.

Deputy leader Jo Swinson said that “out and about across the country, the mood has been positive”, and predicted “a really, really good night”. 

The Liberal Democrats “are the big winners from tonight”, says The Guardian. “There’s talk that they are being seen as the natural party of opposition.”

The Daily Telegraph said the “bruising” night for the Tories was the result of their failure to deliver Brexit.

Turning to Labour says that the

And in more “town hall turmoil”, says Sky News, Labour has done “badly in the pro-Brexit north of England and better in the pro-Remain south”.

Leaders blamed

Pressure is already increasing on Theresa May. Conservative Brexiter MP Sir Bernard Jenkin says the PM is responsible for the poor showing at the polls, as voters overwhelmingly believe that she has “lost the plot”.

Tony Berry, leader of the Conservative Party on the Cotswold District Council, agreed. “I would ask her to consider her position very carefully,” he said.

Jeremy Corbyn’s critics in Labour are also expected to seize on the results, but while Labour shadow minister Dawn Butler admitted it was a “tough set of elections” for the party, she said the Brexit chaos had caused “very unusual times politically”.

Lib Dems, meanwhile, see reasons for optimism. “The Liberal Democrats are back,” said Wera Hobhouse MP. “The brand has recovered.”

Polls were held for 248 English councils, six mayors and all 11 councils in Northern Ireland.

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