Tories profit from Ukip collapse and Labour slide in local poll
Britain's Conservative Party made strong gains in local elections yesterday, suggesting Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit strategy is winning over voters who should hand her an easy victory in a parliamentary poll on June 8.
Early results from the local elections, which voters often use to punish the ruling party, showed Mrs May's Conservatives had instead gained more than 300 council seats and won a mayoral election in the west of England.
The main opposition Labour Party lost control of councils in strongholds in Wales. But the biggest losses were suffered by Ukip, which after two decades of campaigning to leave the European Union has struggled to find a new raison d'etre since Britons voted for Brexit last June.
By calling an early national election for next month, Mrs May has made the local votes a gauge of her leadership, and many Conservative candidates have campaigned in recent days using her campaign mantra of "strong and stable leadership".
But turnout was low and the Conservatives were careful not to overplay its expected victory next month, which could reshape the British political landscape for years to come, and Mrs May (below) was not taking anything for granted.
"Only a Conservative vote at the general election will strengthen my hand to get the best Brexit deal..," she told supporters.
Labour played down its losses. Finance spokesman John McDonnell said: "It hasn't been the wipe-out that some people predicted or the polls predicted."