Local elections: Conservatives lose more than 1,300 councillors

Local elections: Conservatives lose more than 1,300 councillors

Agency News

London, May 4: The Conservatives have lost 1,334 councillors, with Theresa May saying voters wanted the main parties to "get on" with Brexit.

Labour also lost 82 seats in the English local elections, in which it had been expected to make gains, said a BBC News report.

But the strongly pro-EU Lib Dems gained 703 seats, with leader Sir Vince Cable calling every vote received "a vote for stopping Brexit".

The Greens and independents also made gains, as UKIP lost seats.

All 248 English councils holding elections have now announced their full results.
While the scale of the Conservative election losses is larger than expected, Labour had predicted it would gain seats, having suffered losses the last time these council seats were contested, in 2015.

The Green Party has added 194 councillors, while the number of independent councillors has risen by 612. UKIP, which enjoyed large gains in 2015, lost 145 seats.

Results from Northern Ireland's 11 councils are also being announced. No local elections are taking place in Scotland and Wales.

After nine years in government it's not surprising that the Conservatives have lost a significant chunk of seats.

But the sheer number that have disappeared and the loss of control of authorities will hurt - especially with so many activists identifying Theresa May's handling of Brexit as a root of the problem, not just a general malaise.

The perceived personal nature of the failure is more of an indignity than an encounter with a heckler in tweeds.

And for Jeremy Corbyn, it is surprising and disappointing that Labour has simply failed to make any significant capital from such a divided and chaotic government.

However ardently his devotees swear loyalty, the party has fallen back - on this set of results at least - seeming further, rather than closer, from winning power in a general election he so often claims to crave.

In the meanwhile, the MPs have yet to agree on a deal for leaving the European Union, and, as a result, the deadline of Brexit has been pushed back from 29 March to 31 October.

While local elections give voters the chance to choose the decision-makers who affect their communities, the national issue has loomed large on the doorstep.

Ms May, appearing at the Welsh Conservative conference, said voters had sent the "simple message" that her party and Labour had to "get on" with delivering Brexit.
"These were always going to be difficult elections for us," the prime minister added, "and there were some challenging results for us last night, but it was a bad night for Labour, too."

A heckler shouted at the prime minister: "Why don't you resign?" He was then ushered out of the conference hall in Llangollen, North Wales, as the audience chanted: "Out, out, out."

BBC political correspondent Iain Watson said that while the Conservatives had lost "more than 10 times as many councillors", it was "remarkable" that Labour, "around the mid-term of a not-very-popular government - has not made net gains".

Speaking in Greater Manchester, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he "wanted to do better" and conceded voters who disagreed with its backing for Brexit had deserted the party.

But Lib Dem leader Sir Vince, attending a rally in Chelmsford, Essex, where his party took control of the council, said it had been a "brilliant" result and that "every vote for the Liberal Democrats was a vote for stopping Brexit". (UNI)