PM DOES BETTER THAN EXPECTED IN ENGLAND LOCAL ELECTIONS
- 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.