Observer on Saturday - - News - AFP

- Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May's Con­ser­va­tive party fared bet­ter than ex­pected in lo­cal elec­tions in Eng­land, early re­sults yes­ter­day showed, in her first test since los­ing her par­lia­men­tary ma­jor­ity last year.

The party held on to key Lon­don coun­cils de­spite a big push by the main op­po­si­tion Labour party, which ad­mit­ted its re­sults so far had been "mixed".

The UK In­de­pen­dence Party (UKIP), which has seen it’s sup­port col­lapse since the 2016 vote for Brexit, were all but wiped out, while the proEuro­pean Lib­eral Demo­crat party made gains.

Labour's left­ist leader Jeremy Cor­byn had sought to make the vote about na­tional spend­ing cuts, build­ing on a cam­paign that de­prived the gov­ern­ment of it’s ma­jor­ity in Par­lia­ment in last year's gen­eral elec­tion.


May had also had a dif­fi­cult week, with di­vi­sions erupt­ing once again in her Cab­i­net over Brexit and the res­ig­na­tion of a top min­is­ter last week­end over an im­mi­gra­tion scan­dal.

"We've done bet­ter than ex­pected," Con­ser­va­tive party Chair­man Brandon Lewis told Sky News.

"We have seen Labour -- who thought they would be sweep­ing the board in Lon­don -- thus far not gain­ing a sin­gle coun­cil in Lon­don."

Labour's Na­tional Elec­tion Co­or­di­na­tor, An­drew Gwynne, ad­mit­ted it was a "mixed pic­ture" and said the Con­ser­va­tives had ben­e­fited from the col­lapse of UKIP. - Brexit and anti-Semitism Labour's goal to win Con­ser­va­tive strongholds such as West­min­ster and Wandsworth in Lon­don was al­ways go­ing to be hard and though the party gained seats, it failed to take con­trol.

Its fail­ure to take Bar­net, a north­ern sub­urb with a large Jewish pop­u­la­tion that was Labour's top tar­get in the cap­i­tal, is likely to be more heav­ily scru­ti­nised in the con­text of an on­go­ing row over anti-Semitism in the party.

The Con­ser­va­tives held Kens­ing­ton and Chelsea, where they had faced se­vere crit­i­cism over last year's dev­as­tat­ing Gren­fell Tower fire that killed 71 peo­ple, but with a smaller ma­jor­ity.

How­ever, May's party lost con­trol of Traf­ford, its flag­ship coun­cil in north­west­ern Eng­land, where no party won a ma­jor­ity in what Labour de­scribed as a "huge coup".

GOOD NEWS: Bri­tain's Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May (L) and her hus­band Philip leav­ing a polling sta­tion af­ter vot­ing in lo­cal elec­tions in cen­tral Lon­don.

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