UK's May facing local election losses, Brexit unity at stake

Canvassers watch the count at Wandsworth in north London where the Conservatives were fighting a rearguard action against Labour

There have been mixed results for Britain's main political parties following the local council elections.

The Labour leader claimed the local election results left Labour "well placed" to win the next general election despite the party's failure to capture key targets from the Tories.

There's no way around it, it was a bad night for Ukip, whose loss of 44 seats left them with just two on the night - both in their stronghold of Derby.

Labour councillors celebrate in Trafford, after Conservatives lost overall control over the council.

The Conservatives held Kensington and Chelsea, where the council had faced severe criticism over last year's devastating Grenfell Tower fire that killed 71 people, with a slightly reduced majority.

The Conservatives' low expectations masked an erosion of support in some Labour-held councils where the party should be challenging, such as Ealing and Redbridge. The Conservatives control 46 - down two. Both parties have had difficulties triangulating between their supporters, but this suggests the Conservatives have been less effective at bridging the Brexit divide, losing as many seats as they have gained.

The Liberal Democrats did make significant gains in their overall number of councillors and they took overall control of Richmond from the Conservatives.

This is a higher share of the projected vote for Labour than in any annual round of local elections since 2012, and to that extent can be regarded as evidence of progress. The far-right BNP were wiped out altogether.

Labour is "quietly satisfied" with its performance in the English local elections, the party's deputy leader has said.

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They took 13 of the 15 seats up for election, with Labour and the Liberal Democrats winning one each.

Before the election the Conservatives had 30 seats, the Liberal Democrats two, Labour one, UKIP one, the Green Party one and one Independent.

In Barnet, there was clear evidence of voters from the area's large Jewish community turning their backs on Labour after the party became embroiled in allegations of anti-Semitism.

"Jeremy Corbyn has been abandoned in many leave areas - his pledge to stay in the customs union means he is not trusted to deliver Brexit", he said.

"What can the Labour Party do to break the conservative stranglehold?" asked Castle.

"Here's a councillor who brought shame on the borough on an worldwide level and was welcomed back into the fold with open arms simply to grab control to the council", said Labour group Cllr Mohammed Iqbal.

On a visit to Wandsworth she praised campaigners' efforts in seeing off a Labour challenge which had seen the streets flooded with activists, including members of the Corbyn-backing Momentum campaign.

Sir Edward told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "People are desperate for a voice that isn't a right-wing Brexit Tory voice or a left-wing Corbynista voice".

Ukip's general secretary Paul Oakley compared his party with "the Black Death" as he struggled to find positives in a night of virtual wipeout. "Our time isn't finished because Brexit is being betrayed".

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