United Kingdom local elections: Conservatives score big gains, huge win for PM May

This year could be different: The local election is a harbinger of how the United Kingdom wants its government to negotiate Brexit with the EU.

There is no doubt that the tally of votes yesterday told a story of a buoyant Tory party surging far ahead of its rivals.

The First Minister and SNP admitted the Conservatives in Scotland had "a good day by their standards", with the party returning a record number of councillors north of the border.

It is hard to see Ukip coming back from this humiliating showing but more importantly it is Labour that finds itself in a bleak position just weeks before a Westminster poll.

Much of the Conservative Party success has been attributed to the UKIP vote switching en masse to the Tories as the anti-EU and anti-immigration party suffered a complete wipe-out in Thursday's polls.

"We have five weeks to win so we can transform Britain for the many, not the few".

The emphatic victories, fuelled by a collapse in the Ukip vote as anti-EU supporters flocked back to the Tories, set the scene for a substantial increase in Theresa May's House of Commons majority if repeated in June.

The results mean the political make-up of Norfolk County Council is now Conservatives 55, Labour 17, Liberal Democrats 11 and one independent.

Labour suffered a big blow in Glasgow, one of its traditional heartlands, where it lost overall control of the city council.

"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 United Kingdom defence secretary Michael Fallon, playing down the Conservative gains.

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The local elections may not be an exact guide to the general election result but for Labour politicians they have provided either proof of an electoral defeat foretold or an opportunity to mitigate it.

The Tories won two surprise mayoral elections - in the Tees Valley and the West Midlands.

The party failed to break through against the Tories in south-west England - however made advances in some General Election target seats like Eastleigh and Wells.

After results were declared for some 2,000 council seats across England, Scotland and Wales by early afternoon, the Conservatives had gained 230 seats, while its biggest rival, Labour, had lost about 110.

Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said Conservatives were winning support from former Labour voters because of Mr Corbyn's "feeble" leadership.

Cable said: "Ukip has virtually disintegrated, and that matters politically because, if you are a middle-of-the-road Conservative who voted Remain and you see your own party effectively assimilating Ukip and its values as well as its voters, I think they will have pause now and worry about the future".

Because having talked to many Labour candidates tonight after the party's near rout in the local elections, their cunning plan to keep their seats is to hide from Jeremy Corbyn's national campaign, stay in their constituencies and fight on purely local issues. "But we, the whole Labour movement and the British people, can't afford not to seize our moment".

"The Conservatives have managed to pull in people who voted Leave (in the European Union referendum) while retaining Remainers", he told AFP. Party leader Nicola Sturgeon said her party had achieved "a clear and emphatic victory".

The BBC produced a projected national share of the vote -an estimate of how the local elections might have gone if all areas of Britain had been voting.

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