British PM boosted by local election results ahead of key vote
LONDON – Agence France-PresseFirst results from local elections in Britain released on May 5 showed a strong boost for Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party ahead of next month’s Brexit-dominated legislative polls.
The early results, which started trickling out from 6 a.m., showed the ruling Conservatives had made strong gains, dealing a blow to the main opposition Labour Party and all but wiping out the anti-EU, anti-immigration U.K. Independence Party.
Voters across England, Scotland and Wales went to the polls on May 4 to choose nearly 5,000 new local councilors, in the shadow of campaigning for the surprise June 8 general election and a bitter debate over Britain’s impending departure from the European Union.
While local issues are usually the main influence in such polls, May’s decision last month to call a snap general election ensured her own record and Brexit was on voters’ minds.
The prime minister has styled herself as offering the most stable leadership to take Britain through two years of tough Brexit negotiations, and she took aim at Brussels on the eve of the local elections.
As of morning, with a fourth of the counties declared, the Tories had control over 10 local authorities -- out of 88 -- with 553 seats representing a net gain of 150.
Labour had control of five authorities and 338 seats -- a net loss of 119 -- while UKIP had lost all their seats.
The smaller pro-EU Liberal Democrats, who had been hoping to pick up some momentum for the June vote with gain in the local elections, had so far lost 29 seats.
John McDonnell, the right-hand man of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, said the results were not “the wipeout people had expected.”
He also insisted that the party would do better than expected in next month’s parliamentary vote, telling Sky News “once we launch our manifesto, you’ll see the whole campaign begin to turn the tide.”