Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Ukip Smashed and Labour Struggle on May's Big Night

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Ukip Smashed and Labour Struggle on May's Big Night

Article excerpt

Byline: Joe Murphy, Nicholas Cecil and Kate Proctor

UKIP was pulverised in local elections today, clearing another hurdle between Theresa May and a decisive general election victory.

Jeremy Corbyn suffered a major setback in his hopes of mounting a challenge for No 10 as Labour haemorrhaged scores of council seats.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan, in an exclusive Evening Standard interview, said his leader had "a mountain to climb" if he was to win on June 8. After a night of political drama Mrs May was looking the clear winner in the county council elections, with the Tories winning the first of six new metropolitan regional mayors.

Significantly, former Ukip backers appeared to have swung behind her call for a "mandate for Brexit".

Ukip leader Paul Nuttall suffered an utter disaster in the early results, losing every seat in Lincolnshire, where he plans to stand as an MP, and in their former stamping ground of Essex.

The Conservatives had taken control of five councils -- Warwickshire, Lincolnshire, Gloucestershire, Monmouthshire and the Isle of Wight -- and had stolen 160 seats from other parties by mid-morning.

Labour lost control of two councils, Blaenau Gwent and Bridgend, and had lost over 70 councillors by mid-morning. They held onto Cardiff and several other towns where the Tories hoped to make gains, however.

Tim Farron's Liberal Democrats failed to achieve the resurgence in the West Country they hoped, falling short of targets such as Dorset and Somerset, losing 27 seats so far.

Astonishingly, the Tories came close to winning control of Northumberland -- failing when the two candidates drew lots in a tied ward.

Ukip's poor result was significant, as it is the first major election since the Brexit referendum.

Deputy chairwoman Suzanne Evans said: "Unfortunately, we have been in a sense the victims of our own success. We do have a duty now to reform, because what concerns me is that there is still a desperate need for a sensible third party in British politics."

For Labour, shadow chancellor John McDonnell put on a brave face saying it had not been "the wipeout that people expected" but had been a "tough night". …

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