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

The Conservative party in the United Kingdom scored huge gains in local elections across the country on Friday, signaling that Prime Minister Theresa May's call for the public to give her party a bigger majority in Parliament is making an impact. 

More than 4,000 seats were up for grabs on Thursday in local councils in Scotland, Wales and many parts of England, as well as mayoral competitions in several cities.

As of Friday afternoon, May's Conservatives gained more than 560 seats total and control of 11 new councils. They won mayor races in the city of Bristol and surrounding area in western England, BBC reported

The other parties, Labour, Liberal Democrats and U.K. Independence Party, lost ground. The UKIP suffered a huge defeat -- losing 145 seats and winning only one -- virtually wiping them out. 

"We have got what we wanted, but unfortunately we have been in a sense the victims of our own success," UKIP deputy chairwoman Suzanne Evans told Sky News.


The Labour party lost control of seven councils and 380 seats, but won the mayoral contests in northern England cities of Doncaster and Liverpool, according to the BBC.

One of the most detrimental council losses for the party was Glasgow, Scotland's biggest city and once the staunchest of Labour strongholds.

Labour finance spokesman John McDonnell acknowledged the party had suffered a tough night, but told ITV that the results were not "the wipeout that people expected" and insisted it is still "all to play for" in the national vote.

But the results will deepen the gloom of Labour members who believe staunchly left-wing leader Jeremy Corbyn -- painted by the Conservatives as a high-taxing loose spender who is weak on security -- is driving the party toward resounding defeat on June 8.

The centrist Liberal Democrats -- the most firmly pro-EU of Britain's major parties -- failed to make the big gains they were hoping for. They lost 41 seats. 


The favorable results for the Conservatives echoed May's call to the public to give her party the majority ahead of Brexit talks. May, who will be in the June 8 general election, has urged voters that a Conservative majority in Parliament will strengthen Britain's hand in exit talks with the European Union. 

"This Brexit negotiation is central to everything," May said after her meeting with Queen Elizabeth II on Wednesday, marking the dissolution of Parliament and start of the election campaign. 

"If we don't get the negotiation right, your economic security and prosperity will be put at risk and the opportunities you seek for your families will simply not happen," she added.