Whereas high voter turnout is typically a strong indication that a change in government is coming, in the case of England’s local elections this week the same was true for low turnout. Voters clearly expressed their anger over the refusal of the British government and Labour opposition to accomplish Brexit. The election was dubbed a ‘plague on both houses’ where the Conservatives were nearly wiped out in the south and Labour was punished in the north, perhaps foretelling the end of the two establishment parties’ dominance in British politics going forward.
In their worst result since 1995, the Conservatives lost 1,269 seats and now hold 3,559. Labour lost 63 and hold 2020 and UKIP barely registered with a loss of 36 seats and hold 31. The biggest wins were for the Liberal Democrats who gained 676 seats and now hold 1,351, Independents and Others gained 285 seats and now hold 1,1199, and Green gained 185 seats and hold 265. The new Brexit Party and Change UK Party did not put forward candidates, as they focus on the upcoming European Parliament vote in a few weeks.
The weakness and backsliding over Brexit promises by both the Conservatives and Labour have seriously damaged public faith in their democracy. However, PM May continues to spend her time attempting to get her Withdrawal Agreement – despite it being made abundantly clear even before these elections that the Agreement as is is unwanted by the public – pushed through with the support of Labour. At the Welsh Conservative conference in Llangollen on Friday, Prime Minister Theresa May was interrupted by a Conservative Tory activist who shouted, "why don't you resign," and "we don't want you," before being escorted out of the room.
Conservative candidate Michelle McGrath from Trafford, which the party won with a majority of more than 1,000 in 2015, lost her seat to Labour. She blamed her defeat fully on the Prime Minister, saying, "Theresa May has been dilly dallying, shilly shallying. I just do not want to look at her face again. Absolutely it was the national issues. It was Brexit without a doubt - the handling of it.” Calling for PM May to go, she added, "As far as I am concerned, she was never capable of negotiating for the UK."
Lord Hayward said, “You can overdo the Brexit bit. This is about the rebelling middle classes, be they leavers or remainers, voicing their frustration with our fractured political system. If you look at some of the Lib Dem gains in areas such as Chelmsford, the Cotswolds, North East Somerset - this is not a rebellion of remainers. The Lib Dems are there because they can deliver - literally deliver leaflets but also local politics.”
Co-founder of Deltapoll Joe Twyman warned that the European elections on May 23 would be a different story entirely. According to the latest European Parliament election polls, the Brexit Party is gaining rapidly and is already polling in the 30 percent range, while the Conservative support have plummeted to 13 percent. Labour is polling in the 20s and the Liberal Democrats, Greens, and Change UK are each polling at 10 percent.
Additionally, Sir Tony Robinson, who is an actor and former member of Labour's executive, quit the party after 45 years citing Jeremy Corbyn's leadership, anti-Semitism, and Brexit. On Twitter, Sir Robinson wrote, “I've left the Labour Party after nearly 45 years of service at Branch, Constituency and NEC levels, partly because of its continued duplicity on Brexit, partly because of its antisemitism, but also because its leadership is complete s---."