UK Prime Minister Theresa May today played down her Conservative Party’s great showing in the local polls, saying that she will not take it for granted and presume a similar landslide in the June 8 general election. Her party gained 558 seats and seized control of 11 councils in the best local election performance by a governing party in 40 years, with the gains mostly coming at the expense of opposition Labour Party and far-right UK Independence Party (UKIP), which lost all of its 145 local authority seats. “I will not take anything for granted and neither will the team I lead, because there is too much at stake,” she said. Referring to her Brexit challenges, she added: “The reality is that today, despite the evident will of the British people, we have bureaucrats in Europe who are questioning our resolve to get the right deal. The reality is that only a general election vote for the Conservatives in 34 days’ time will strengthen my hand to get the best deal for Britain from Brexit.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn described the local election results, which marked massive losses for the party of 320 seats, as “mixed”, and insisted his party was “closing the gap” on the Conservatives. “We have five weeks to win the general election so we can fundamentally transform Britain for the many, not the few. We know this is no small task, it is a challenge on a historic scale. But we, the whole Labour movement and the British people, can’t afford not to seize our moment,” he said in a statement. According to experts, if the results of Thursday’s polls in Wales, Scotland and county councils in England were repeated nationally, the Conservatives would be on 38 per cent, Labour 27 per cent, the Liberal Democrats 18 per cent and UKIP 5 per cent.This would not translate into a landslide victory for May but a decisive victory for the Tories looks guaranteed, with an estimated 100-seat majority for the ruling party. Much of the Conservative Party success has been attributed to the UKIP vote switching en masse to the Tories as the anti-EU and anti-immigration party suffered a complete wipe-out in Thursday’s polls.