Economy

UK's May facing local election losses, Brexit unity at stake

UK's May facing local election losses, Brexit unity at stake

Outside London, the Conservatives regained control of councils in the pro-Brexit regions of Peterborough and Basildon, largely at the expense of the anti-EU UK Independence Party. Both parties have had difficulties triangulating between their supporters, but this suggests the Conservatives have been less effective at bridging the Brexit divide, losing as many seats as they have gained.

In Barnet, former Labour councillor Adam Langleben voiced his anger at the impact which the row over anti-Semitism had on his party's fortunes.

Mr Corbyn sought to put a fearless face on overnight results which saw Labour gain control of Plymouth.

Theresa May told activists in Wandsworth yesterday: 'Labour thought they could take control, this was one of their top targets and they threw everything at it, but they failed'. "To have managed to so misjudge the politics of the election that this is presented as a bad result is quite spectacular".

The centre-right party held on to key London councils despite a big push by Labour, the main opposition, which failed to live up to its own hype.

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Labour had entered the election with high hopes of victories in the capital, but in Barnet, there was clear evidence of voters from the area's large Jewish community turning their backs on the party after it became embroiled in allegations of anti-Semitism.

Two results for Labour stood out: Labour lawmaker Dan Jarvis won a mayoral election in Sheffield in northern England, while the party retained control of Birmingham council in Britain's second-biggest conurbation. But although it wasn't sufficient to precipitate decisive swings, there was clearly a Brexit effect in some areas.

The Liberal Democrats did make significant gains in their overall number of councillors and they took overall control of Richmond from the Conservatives.

"In terms of delivering Brexit, we are still there and if the Tories were seen to indulge in the wholesale betrayal of Brexit, then even losing a few points to us in a tight race between the Conservatives and Jeremy Corbyn would be devastating to the Conservatives looking towards the next General Election".

Following a win in Plymouth, he said: "If you look at the overall picture Labour gained a lot of seats across the whole country and gained votes in places where we never had votes before".

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As before, Labour still holds 24 seats and the Conservatives hold eight. It was UKIP, and it coincided with migration problems and more frequent power grabs from the European Union.

"It is hard to avoid the conclusion that the Labour Party performed less well in wards that have quite a lot of people from the Jewish community".

Labour will be disappointed to find themselves down by nine and UKIP (rather expectedly) saw their regional seat total reduced by 11.

The local elections have impacted in important ways on the Brexit parliamentary process. "For me that means coming out of the customs union and the single market". So the broadly benign result probably prevents both extremes of the Conservatives' Brexit divide from making too much of it.

Pollsters worked out that if the results of the local elections were applied to a national general election each of the two main parties would gain a 35 percent share of the vote.

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