England local elections: Parties fail to make decisive gains

Photo: Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn arrives to vote in local government elections in London. (Reuters)
The leaders of the Labour Party and the Conservatives, Jeremy Corbyn and Prime Minister Theresa May, have both claimed success in England’s local council elections indicating neither party has decisively won the elections.
After a difficult period for a government that is divided over Brexit and recently suffered a high-profile resignation over an immigration scandal, the Conservatives lost control of five councils and gained control of four in elections held in towns and cities across England. Voting took place to fill more than 4,000 seats on 150 local councils in towns and cities across England, including all of London’s 32 boroughs. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland did not hold elections.
Labour also lost control of two local authorities, as it gained two others, a performance not strong enough to suggest it would garner a parliamentary majority if a general election were called.​ The leaders of both parties hailed the elections as a success.
Polling expert Professor Sir John Curtice told the BBC the results were was "a draw", so far as both parties' national performance was concerned. The Lib Dems are on 16% according the BBC estimate, which uses the results of key wards to estimate what a Britain-wide vote would have been. The BBC put Labour and the Conservatives neck-and-neck on 35% apiece.
On Friday night Tower Hamlets became the last council to declare, with Labour the winner. The party has been left with 74 councils, the same number as before the election. The Conservatives control 46 – down two. The parties hold 2,308 and 1,230 seats respectively.
The Liberal Democrats now control nine councils, up four, with 536 seats – a gain of 77. The Greens increased their share by eight seats to 39, while Ukip were the big losers, dropping 57 seats to hold just three. The far-right BNP were wiped out altogether.
Corbyn: ‘Solid’ results for Labour
Corbyn told Labour supporters the results showed his party was “ready for a general election whenever it comes” and insisted: “There’s much more to come and it’s going to get even better.”
He added: “Obviously, I am disappointed at any places where we lost a bit of ground, but if you look at the overall picture, Labour gained a lot of seats across the whole country; we gained a lot of votes in places we never had those votes before.”
"Labour has won even more council seats than at our high watermark of 2014 and we are on course to secure our best results in London since 1971," he said.
May: Labour failed
Theresa May, Greeted by cheering supporters in Wandsworth, said: “Labour thought they could take control. This was one of their top targets and they threw everything at it, but they failed.”
Theresa May hails the local election results in Dudley. (Reuters)
She said the party "won't take anything for granted" and would "build on this success for the future".
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson pointed to the Conservative party's success in Brexit-voting areas, remarking that Corbyn's promise to keep Britain in the EU customs union "means he is not trusted to deliver Brexit".