BOTH Labour and Tory parties have faced rejection at the ballot box in the English council elections over their Brexit betrayal, with smaller parties and the LibDems winning seats.
Polls took place for 248 English councils, six mayors and all 11 councils in Northern Ireland.
In England, by yesterday afternoon, the Tories had lost more than 578 seats and 19 English councils, while Labour has lost 104 seats, and the Liberal Democrats had gained more than 379 seats.
Speaking in Greater Manchester, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he ‘wanted to do better’.
LibDem leader Sir Vince Cable, in Chelmsford Essex, where his party took control of the council, said it had been a ‘brilliant’ result for his party and that ‘every vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote for stopping Brexit’.
Brandon Lewis, Conservative Party chair, said voters had given his party a very clear message they were ‘fed up’ with the Brexit deadlock and ‘they want us to get it done’.
Polling expert Prof Sir John Curtice said the days of the Conservatives and Labour dominating the electoral landscape, as happened in the 2017 election, when they won 80% of the vote between them, ‘may be over’.
He said: ‘It looks as though the key message from the voters to the Conservatives and Labour is “a plague on both of your houses”, as they find themselves losing both votes and seats on an extensive basis.’
He warned it would be even worse for the two main parties at the European elections on the 23 May, if they go ahead.
Tory Minister Brandon Lewis said he was ‘very sorry’ that Conservative councillors had lost their seats because of public anger over the Brexit impasse.
The Conservatives have lost control of 20 councils – including Peterborough, Basildon and St Albans.
Labour has lost control of three – Hartlepool, Bolsover and Wirral. Labour has also lost its mayoral post in Middlesbrough to an independent
Labour has won one council – Trafford – a former Conservative stronghold.
Corbyn said his policy remained to ‘bring together’ Leave and Remain voters behind a negotiated exit from the EU.
He suggested ‘local factors’ had been to blame for the loss of seats in places like Walsall and Hartlepool and the legacy of cuts to services made by the Conservative-LibDem coalition.
‘I am very sorry we lost them. We will fight and win them back … Of course we wanted to do better. Of course we did. We always want to do better.’
The Liberal Democrats have gained eight councils – including Winchester, North Norfolk, Cotswold, Bath and North East Somerset and Vale of White Horse.
Conservative councillors have criticised Theresa May after losing hundreds of seats in the local elections.
The Tories lost Cotswold District Council after 16 years, with the Liberal Democrats now in charge.
Conservative group leader Tony Berry said it was a ‘very unusual set of circumstances’.
May was challenged at a Tory Party meeting in Wales by a Tory who demanded loudly: ‘Why don’t you resign?’