Brexit-supporting parties were punished hard in yesterday’s local elections and according to results in so far, the Tories are the main losers by far.
Elections were held for 248 English councils, six mayors and all 11 councils in Northern Ireland
With results so far in from 100 of 248 council votes, the Tories appear to be losing even worse than had been feared, down 332 seats so far.
Labour also appear to be punished for their Brexit ambiguity, down 45 seats on the 2015 local elections, with anti-Brexit parties calling for the people to have the final say making large gains.
The Lib Dems are up 235 seats in their best results since the Iraq War and the Greens have gained 34. There were 62 more independent councillors while Ukip lost five.
Anger over Brexit appears to be influencing voters, say polling experts.
Yesterday some people shared photos of spoilt ballot papers on social media, writing “Get May out” and “Brexit means Brexit” on their spoilt votes.
Conservative sources had been spinning in preparation for a massive loss, insisting losing 600 seats would be a “good night,” but there were emotional scenes last night as the party appeared to be in meltdown.
Tory MP Vicky Ford broke down in tears following the count in Chelmsford, Essex.
She told the BBC councillors had lost their seats “as a result of what is happening nationally reflecting back in people not wanting to turn out and vote locally.”
But Labour had not benefitted from the Tory losses, the big gains going to Lib Dems, Greens and independents.
People’s Vote supporting Labour MP Ben Bradshaw this morning warned his party: “when you cower in the middle of the road on the biggest existential crisis facing Britain for generations you get squashed. “
The Green Party’s Caroline Lucas hailed her party’s victories as a “brilliant launchpad for European elections in 3 weeks,” with “bold action” on dealing with a climate emergency and remaining in the EU gaining more support for her party.
Conservative MP and Brexiteer Priti Patel used the electoral drubbing to call for a new leader for her party.
The Witham MP told BBC News that this was now the “ultimate question” for the Conservatives and voters on the doorstep made their views clear about Theresa May.
“People have very categorically said, she is part of the problem,” Patel insisted.
“I think we need change, I just don’t think we can continue like this,” she says. “Many of my constituents have said this to me, we need change, we need a change of leadership. Perhaps the time has now come for that.”