Local elections bring cheer for Theresa May
London, May 5 (PTI): British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative party today made huge gains in the local and mayoral polls, indicating a victory for her Brexit strategy and boosting her chances for securing a larger parliamentary majority next month.
The local elections yesterday were widely seen as a sign of things to come in the snap general election on June 8, announced by the British Prime Minister last month.
The Tories gained over the Opposition Labour party in many of the council seats and confirmed pre-poll forecasts of a Labour battering, largely blamed on the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn.
The Liberal Democrat results have been mixed, with some gains and some losses.
But the biggest losers have been the far-right UK Independence Party (UKIP), which is set to be completely annihilated after losing every local seat it had under its control.
A total of 4,851 council seats were up for grabs in 88 councils – all of those in Scotland and Wales and 34 in England – five weeks before the general election.
At latest count across the 23 English and Welsh counties that had fully declared results, the Tories had control of 10 authorities and 561 seats, a net gain of 155, while Labour had control of five authorities and 404 seats, a net loss of 125.
The Tories are on course to gain massive ground from the UKIP and Labour.
“These elections are a challenging set of contests held in unique circumstances. They’re individual contests being fought in very differing situations, from local council-level, issue-driven campaigns up to large mayoral fights with some well-known politicians,” a Labour party spokesperson said.
The results are being described as a bellwether of voting trends for the general election, with Theresa May set to sweep to victory.
“It looks as if we have made so far some encouraging gains but it s very early days yet. Most of these councils, the vast majority, are still to count. We ll have to wait and see what the final results are and overall, of course, the turnout is much lower than you get in a general election, said UK defence secretary Michael Fallon, playing down the Conservative gains.
Many of the councils are yet to begin counting and the complete results are not expected before Saturday.
But the broad trends are clear, with the UKIP confirmed as having suffered the maximum casualties in the contest.
The anti-EU party has struggled to find a footing and has been facing an existential crisis since the referendum in JuNE last year in favour of Brexit.
“This is a temporary glitch for us,” claimed Nick Smith, the UKIP s chairman in Lincolnshire region.
But political pundits had already predicted the beginning of the end for the far-right phenomenon after Nigel Farage had stepped down as leader to make way for Paul Nuttal, who has so far failed to make any mark with the electorate and lost heavily when he recently attempted to contest a by-election in Stoke on behalf of his party.