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Local election results explained: Tories lose HUNDREDS of seats but Labour struggle; The Tories have lost hundreds of seats in a bruising local elections night - yet the spoils haven't been seized by Labour. Here's how the results unfolded overnight and what they mean.

Byline: Nicola Bartlett

Voters have dealt a blow to both main parties in a bruising night of local elections.

The Tories lost hundreds of seats as local councillors were punished for a Parliament in chaos over Brexit.

ButLabourfailed to seize the spoils from the Tories' loss - with huge gains instead going to the Lib Dems, who boasted of their best night for 16 years.

By 6.30am, with 101 out of 248 councils declared, the Tories had lost 356 seats overall. And despite fighting a beleaguered party of government that did well last time, Labour also lost 45.

The Lib Dems had gained 243 seats while the Greens gained 34 and Independents gained 73. UKIP were practically non-existent, losing 7 seats to bring their total to 12.

Local election results live: Every council declaration and result as it happens

Local election results in full: Summary of all 248 council polls across England

More than 8,400 seats were up for election across England outside London. Local factors will always be partly to blame, and there's a mixed picture.

Labour did well in some areas like Trafford while losing control of symbolic northern Hartlepool, Bolsover and Wirral.

There's also much more to come, with half of councils only declaring during Friday afternoon.

But some MPs were quick to blame the party's middle-ground approach to Brexit.

Labour MP Jess Phillips fumed: "I can't help but think that the public like a clear message even if they don't always agree with it.

2019 LOCAL ELECTION RESULTS - WIDGET

It's been a bruising night for the Conservative Party as they lost more than 250 seats.

The Tories lost control of heartland working-class Home Counties councils including Basildon, Southend-on-Sea and Folkestone & Hythe. Commuter-belt St Albans and Welwyn Hatfield also fell out of blue control.

They also lost control of Broxtowe - home to the Remainer MP Anna Soubry - amid Labour gains.

None of that bodes well for the EU elections on May 23, where the Tories will be up against Nigel Farage's Brexit Party (which didn't fight this time).

The damage limitation spin machine is in its full 1200 RPM cycle as Tories point out the losses weren't as bad as expected.

And so far that's true, as there were predictions the Tories would lose 500 to 1,000 seats.

Tory MPs looking for a glimmer of hope are right about another thing too - the Conservatives made good gains the last time these seats were up for election in 2015.

And as today's elections were mainly in Tory strongholds (the Tories held more than 50% of the 8,400 seats), the Tories had the most to lose.

Tory Brexiteer Priti Patel said people had made clearTheresa Maywas "part of the problem" and there needs to be a "change of leadership". And yes, there is a grassroots movement against her.

But others will move to paint the result as not a disaster and keep the PM in office.BrexitMinister James Cleverly said: "If it was 500 [losses] rather than 1,000 I would be happy with that."

And in reality, with the EU elections in three weeks looking like they could go much worse for the Tories, MPs may wait until then to move against Mrs May.

Conservative MP for East Surrey Sam Gyimah said the party's loss of control in Tandridge, Surrey, was "disappointing but not surprising", citing two non-Brexit-related issues.

And while the Conservative party suffered significant losses across the country, Tory MP Eddie Hughes had cause to celebrate as his party gained Walsall North from no overall control.

Labour have been in opposition for nine years but are not making the kind of gains you might expect.

Jeremy Corbyn's party had some big symbolic wins, finally seizing the once-blue Manchester island of Trafford back into red control.

There were some southern gains too, such as six seats in Folkestone and Hythe. And Labour gained one seat in Peterborough - which is staging a crucial by-election on June 6 - as the Tories lost it to No Overall Control.

But Labour also lost control of northern Bolsover, home to legendary Brexiteer Labour MP Dennis Skinner.

The party failed to gain control of Midlands Brexit stomping ground Stoke-on-Trent.

Hartlepool was lost from Labour control as was Wirral - where the Labour share of the vote was down 13%, according to the BBC. And an eye-watering nine seats were lost in northern Labour heartland - and Leave-voting area - Sunderland.

Labour's Dawn Butler has admitted Labour did not do as well as expected because MPs are "in a mess".

The shadow cabinet minister told Sky News: "We have to be honest, parliament is a mess at the moment, we're not making much progress, so it does affect everybody in parliament."

She added: "These are very unusual times politically. Some have described it as being since World War 2 we haven't seen this type of election

Polling guru John Curtice said the Tories were being punished more heavily in the south of England, where Lib Dems often have a hold, than the Labour north.

"Clearly these elections were never going to be easy for us and there are still many results to come," said Labour MP Nia Griffith at 6am.

Lib Dems could not contain there glee after picking up a string of seats and gaining control of key areas - including Brexiteer Tory Jacob Rees-Mogg's back yard.

They also gained Winchester, North Norfolk and Cotswold.

With predictions the Lib Dems could gain as many as 500 seats, MP Layla Moran claimed these are the best local election results for the party since 2003 - in the aftermath of the Iraq War.

MP Ed Davey claimed his party was having an "awesome night" thanks to voters rejecting Labour and the Conservatives, citing hard work rather than Brexit issues for their success.

The Green Party and Independents had an excellent night as voters "vent their protest" against the main two parties, polling guru John Curtice said.

The expert said it was "one of the Greens' best performances ever".

It comes in the wake of the Extinction Rebellion protests, which have raised awareness of climate issues.

But the rise of Independents and small parties also recognises an anger at the main, establishment parties. Independents gained 10 seats in Bolsover and gained North Kesteven council from the Tories.

The same picture keeps being highlighted - Labour gains are best in the South, and Tory losses are worst in the South.

Politics professor at Manchester University Rob Ford claimed the north saw a swing of 3% against the Tories and 4% against Labour.

Yet in the Midlands there was no change for Labour, as opposed to a 6% drop for the Midlands.

And in the South, Labour gained 3.5%, as opposed to a 7.5% Tory drop - with a whopping 5.5 point swing from the Conservatives to Jeremy Corbyn's Party.

Remain-backing Labour MPs claim the party is struggling because it hasn't come down firmly on one side over Brexit.

The party is continuing to pursue its own Brexit plan, while keeping a second EU referendum as an option on the table in case needed, but not in all cases.

Labour MP Jess Phillips reacted by saying her party's position on Brexit had "failed".

"I'm off to bed as have to be up at 7am to do the school run," she tweeted. "My final word is that I think our position on Brexit has failed.

"Bravery is needed. If you combine kindness and effectiveness with a bit of grit most people will respect you even when they don't always agree."

Fellow Labour MP Wes Streeting said losses in Sunderland and Liverpool demonstrated that "looking both ways on Brexit isn't doing Labour any good".

Local elections 2019

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SONNING, ENGLAND - MAY 02: British Prime Minister Theresa May hugs a Conservative Party canvasser as she arrives to cast her vote at a polling station in the local council elections on May 2, 2019 in Sonning, England. Voters are heading to the polls today for council and mayoral elections across England and Northern Ireland. (Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)

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Extinction Rebellion protesters march from their camp in Marble Arch down Park Lane

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Stoke on Trent, England

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Title Annotation:News,Politics
Publication:Daily Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:May 3, 2019
Words:1390
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