Britain’s governing Conservative Party lost support in local elections held Thursday, but the main opposition Labour Party failed to make significant gains at their expense, as results continue to be counted on Friday.
The Conservatives lost significant support in the south of England to the centrist Liberal Democrats, and Labour continued to fail to make headway in the north of England.
The south of England is traditionally Conservative and the north Labour.
Labour did, however, solidify its support in the capital London and had a few symbolic electoral victories around England -- not enough, however, for analysts to predict they could win the next election as things stand, although it is possible they have enough support now to deny the Conservatives a majority.
Sir Keir Starmer, the leader of the Labour Party, said on Friday morning: "From the depths in 2019 we are back on track now for the general election, showing what the change that we've done, the hard change that we've done in the last two years, what a difference it has made.”
Conservative Party co-chair Oliver Dowden dismissed Starmer’s optimism, however.
Dowden told Sky News: "Labour is certainly not on the path to power and I believe Boris Johnson has the leadership skills, particularly the energy and dynamism to lead us into the next election.”
So far in England, Labour has won three more councils bringing their total to 38, as well as 37 more councilors, bringing their total to 1,238.
The Conservatives have lost seven councils, bringing their total to 20, and lost 133 councilors, down to a total of 564.
The Liberal Democrats have gained one council, bringing their total to four, and with 63 more councilors, reached a total of 281. The Greens have no council, but gained 24 councilors, reaching 40 in total.
Speaking to local media, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: "It is mid-term. It's certainly a mixed set of results.
"We had a tough night in some parts of the country but on the other hand, in other parts of the country, you are still seeing Conservatives going forward and making quite remarkable gains in places that haven't voted Conservative for a long time, if ever."
He said voters have sent a “message” to the government.
Johnson added: "The big lesson from this is that this is a message from voters that what they want us to do above all -- one, two, and three -- is focus on the big issues that matter to them, taking the country forward, making sure we fix the post-COVID aftershock, get us all through the economic aftershocks in the way we got through COVID, fix the energy supply issues, that's where the inflationary spike is coming, and keep going with our agenda of high wage, high skill jobs.”
The full results are still coming in.
A total of 4,350 seats in 140 councils across England are being contested in the election while all seats of Scotland’s 32 and Wales’ 22 councils are up for grabs.
Northern Irish voters have voted to fill their 90-seat local parliament.
The overall vote across the UK will show whether the leading Conservative Party has lost public support due to illegal lockdown parties and some other general problems, including the cost of living crisis.
A poor result for the Tories might prompt a leadership contest to replace Boris Johnson as the party leader and prime minister.
Scotland’s results are expected to show support for a second independence referendum, which the leader of the biggest party, the Scottish National Party, has promised to hold by the end of 2023.
In Northern Ireland, the nationalist Sinn Fein party is projected to come out as the biggest party for the first time, leaving behind the Democratic Unionist Party, a result that may see months of uncertainty for the fragile political system in the country.
The total vote that Sinn Fein receives will also be indicative of a step for a unified Ireland.