Labour failure to manage expectations allows Tories claim a victory

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British Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservative party fared better than expected in local elections in England, results on Friday showed, in her first test since losing her parliamentary majority past year.

With results in early Friday from 99 of the 150 English councils that were holding elections, the Conservatives had a net loss of two seats, Labour had a net gain of 37 and the Liberal Democrats were up 40.

It also scored highly in areas that voted in favour of Brexit in a 2016 referendum, while losing some ground in more pro-EU heartlands.

Labour said that tight results in four Wandsworth wards meant it missed out on victory by just 141 votes.

Party chairman Brandon Lewis told Sky News: "It's been a good night for us".

UKIP, the rightwing, anti-immigrant Eurosceptic party that performed strongly in the 2014 local elections, saw its vote share collapse in line with its poor performance in the May 2017 general election.

"Think of the Black Death in the Middle Ages", he told BBC Radio 4 on Friday. It comes along and it causes disruption and then it goes dormant, and that's exactly what we are going to do.

"Our time isn't finished because Brexit is being betrayed".

Meeting activists in the Devon city, Labour's leader denied that his party has passed the moment of "peak Corbyn".

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Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Tim Pickstone held on to his Holyrood seat, meaning that the ward continues to have three councillors from the party - however this was the Lib Dem's only win of the night.

Its failure to take Barnet, a northern suburb with a large Jewish population that was Labour's top target in the capital, is likely to be more heavily scrutinised in the context of an ongoing row over anti-Semitism in the party.

He said: "I don't think it was because of any single issue, I think there was a combination of reasons why people voted the way they did".

Cllr Quinn said: "I am very pleased and I am honoured that the people of Sedgley have put their trust in me for the third time".

Despite fears that national concerns around Anti-Semitism within the Labour Party would have a bearing on the election, they held on to four of the towns' six seats - with incumbent Sedgley councillor, Cllr Alan Quinn, retaining the ward by a huge margin of 973.

In the rest of the county the Conservatives have taken control in Peterborough and Labour have retained Cambridge.

Labour did better elsewhere, though, taking over all control in Trafford, in the north of England, and in Plymouth - which includes the constituency of Johnny Mercer MP, who has been talked about as a potential future Conservative leader.

We asked Cllr Sean Anstee whether the new make-up of Trafford Council, with no party having overall control, could make it hard to get things done in the borough and result in deadlock over local issues. In Richmond, in south-east London, which voted heavily in favour of remaining in the European Union, the pro-Remain Liberal Democrats wrested control from the Conservatives.

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