UK PM May avoids London wipeout in local elections


VOTERS went to the polls in local elections yesterday with Labour hoping to make gains against Theresa May's Conservatives.

Polling expert Sir John Curtice said the first results showed the Conservatives were in a strong position.

"Therefore above all it seems to me that what the Conservative Party has to be able to do in the coming weeks and months is to deliver on Brexit in a way that will satisfy the aspirations of leave voters", he said. Conservative Party chairman Brandon Lewis has said he is expecting the results to be "difficult" for his party.

National issues often factor in the local elections, which offer a chance to send a mid-term message to the government, and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is certainly hoping for a boost.But Corbyn's resurgent left-wing party is far from guaranteed to sweep to victory given its turbulent rise to prominence.

Noting how taking over individual councils was very hard, he added: "In Wandsworth, there's a real grassroots campaign going on there but we'll have to see how that goes on the night". They are made up of varying numbers of seats, and run by any party that has an overall majority of those seats.

Hillingdon remained in Conservative hands and Mr Corbyn's party fell well short of the upsets some had predicted in Tory strongholds Wandsworth, Westminster and Kensington.

A total of 4,371 seats are up for grabs in 150 councils, spanning metropolitan and district councils, unitary authorities and London boroughs.

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The Conservatives have comfortably seen off Labour challenges in flagship London councils.

The two main parties, however, both lost control of key councils outside the capital. May is also negotiating an exit from the European Union that 60 percent of the capital rejected at the 2016 Brexit referendum.

But not everyone in the capital will go insane for the party of Corbyn. Critics also say he misjudged his response to military action in Syria and a row with Moscow over the poisoning of a former Russian spy in southern England.

Labour also held Salford Council having gained two seats although losing Kersal to the Conservatives.

UKIP has suffered leadership issues and struggled for a new goal since achieving its primary political aim at the 2016 Brexit referendum when Britons chose to leave the EU.

After 14 years in control of Trafford, the Conservatives lost their only council in Greater Manchester in a defeat Labour claimed as a "huge coup".

The overall tally, not due until 1900 GMT, will offer the most complete snapshot of public opinion since an election past year in which the Conservatives suffered unexpected losses, leaving May weakened and her party arguing openly about Brexit.