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'A simple message': Conservatives and Labour take serious hit in UK local elections

More than 200 of the 248 English councils have now announced their results.

Counting in the local government elections begins at Belfast City Hall.
Counting in the local government elections begins at Belfast City Hall.
Image: Rebecca Black/PA Wire/PA Images

THE CONSERVATIVE AND Labour parties have taken a significant hit in the UK’s local elections, with voters venting frustration over the ongoing Brexit impasse. 

Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservatives lost control of several local authorities and more than 1,000 seats but Labour failed to capitalise on this weakness, with votes going instead to smaller parties.

The Liberal Democrats have gained nearly 550 councillors. 

The results may be a sign of worse things to come for both parties ahead of 23 May’s EU elections, which the UK must contest due to the delays in it leaving the EU bloc.  The UK was originally meant to leave the EU on March 29, but now has an extension until 31 October.

More than 200 of the 248 English councils have now announced their results. 

The BBC has projected that if results it analysed are replicated across Britain, both Conservatives and Labour would get 28% of the vote in this election. 

Voters in mainly rural and suburban areas went to the polls yesterday and suburban areas of England, with more than 8,000 seats up for grabs.

“There was a simple message from yesterday’s elections to both us and the Labour Party: just get on and deliver Brexit,” May said.

“This is a difficult time for our party and these election results are a symptom of that,” May told the Welsh Conservative Conference, having faced down a heckler calling for her to quit.

Northern Ireland 

All 11 local authorities in Northern Ireland are also being contested in the elections. The counting began at 8am this morning, later than in Britain.

In total, there are 819 local council candidates standing for 462 available seats.

So far the DUP has won 33 seats, the UUP has 19, the Alliance Party has 17, Sinn Féin has won 16, the SDLP has 13 and 12 seats have gone to others. The counting is continuing. 

Liberals, Greens make gains

The Conservatives are traditionally strong in the areas that were being contested and were defending a wide number of seats. 

These local authority seats were last contested in 2015, alongside the general election in which then prime minister David Cameron won a surprise majority for the party.

But even though Labour were fighting from a low base, they too lost ground.

Meanwhile the pro-Brexit United Kingdom Independence Party did better than in last year’s local elections, indicating the growing divide between right and left in British politics. 

“The Liberal Democrats are the big winners of this year’s elections, with already our best result for over 15 years and more gains expected,” said party leader Vince Cable.

“Voters have sent a clear message that they no longer have confidence in the Conservatives, but they are also refusing to reward Labour while the party prevaricates on the big issue of the day: Brexit.”

With reporting by Michelle Hennessy and from © – AFP 2019

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Cormac Fitzgerald

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