Published: Fri, May 12, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Theresa May's party secures big gains in local elections

Even in Scotland, which since the late 1990s has largely shunned the governing party, early results showed the Conservatives gaining strongly to the detriment of both Labour and, to a lesser extent, the Scottish National Party, which still looked likely to win the lion's share of votes overall.

If the results in England, Scotland and Wales can be taken as a barometer of the likely outcome of the June 8 poll then it seems the Conservatives are on course for a decisive victory.

Opinion polls give May a runaway lead in the national election next month of around 20 percentage points, which could hand her more than 100 more seats in parliament and bolster her hand in divorce negotiations with the EU.

Addressing supporters in Leicester, Mr Corbyn acknowledged that yesterday's results - which saw Labour shed 320 councillors and lose control of seven authorities, including Glasgow, were "disappointing", but insisted that "the gap between us and the Tories is not as great as the pundits have been saying".

He told LBC radio its performance was "really disappointing" and that its message had to "cut through" better in the five weeks to the general election.

"It was bad what happened over the last 48 hours, I'm really disappointed, but you know what, time and time again in terms of the Labour party and our movement overall, is when it is tough, well people stand up and get on with will be a test for all of us". "But we, the whole Labour movement and the British people, can't afford not to seize our moment", he said in a statement.

The other parties, Labour, Liberal Democrats and U.K. Independence Party, lost ground.

"The reality is that today, despite the evident will of the British people, we have bureaucrats in Europe who are questioning our resolve to get the right deal". The word "disastrous" is said to have been used by members of the party, despite the leader not viewing the results this way regardless of how many seats they lost.

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Losing seats to Tories was "a price Ukip is prepared to pay" for the prize of leaving the European Union, he said.

Arron Banks, the donor who bankrolled Ukip's growth in recent years, said the party was "finished as an electoral force" and its leadership needed "a strategic bullet to the back of the head".

There were positives, with the north west remaining well and truly Labour - Steve Rotheram won the Liverpool City Region mayoral election, while Andy Burnham did the same in Manchester.

Political analysts have argued that Ukip had become a "gateway drug" for voters in Labor heartlands to shift to the Tories, which could be hugely damaging for Corbyn's party.

At the time of writing, the Tories had gained an extra 560 councillors. The SNP also lost control of the city of Dundee, one of the few places that backed breaking away from the United Kingdom in a 2014 plebiscite.

The SNP remains the largest party in local government with 431 councillors voted in, up slightly from its total of 425 in 2012.

The Liberal Democrats increased their share of the vote by 7%, but lost almost 40 seats in total.

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