Saturday

24th Aug 2019

Tories and Scottish nationalists win UK elections

  • PM Cameron (with Brexit leader Boris Johnson) won't emerge weakened from Thursday's election ahead of the June EU referendum (Photo: Prime minister's office)

The Conservative Party and Scottish National Party (SNP) emerged as the main winners of Britain's local elections held on Thursday (5 May), while the opposition Labour party weakened throughout the country, according to partial results Friday morning.

The most awaited outcome, for the election of London's mayor, will be announced later in the day. Labour candidate Sadiq Khan is the favourite and a victory would help the party leader Jeremy Corbyn boast of a good result.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The elections for town councils and the regional assemblies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland were the last test of British parties' strength before the EU membership referendum on 23 June.

In Scotland, the separatist and pro-EU SNP won 58 out of 73 constituency seats, three more than at the last election in 2011.

Counts for the 56 seats - seven for each of eight regional groups of constituencies, were still going on Friday morning.

The BBC Friday morning predicted that the SNP would finish first but would fail to win an overall majority, with 63 seats out of 129.

According to the provisional results, Labour was losing 12 constituency seats, down to only three.

It was set to become the third political force behind the Conservatives of prime minister David Cameron, who won four constituency seats, up to seven, and who were winning more regional seats.

The BBC said the Tories could win up to 31 seats, compared to 15 in the outgoing assembly.

Until 2003, the Labour was the main party in Scotland.

In the 124 English town councils to be renewed, the Labour remained the party with the most councils and seats - 41 and 779, according to partial results Friday morning. But it was losing one council and 24 seats.

The Conservatives were holding 20 councils, as much as in 2011 and winning five seats to 470.
 The UK Independence Party (UKIP) won 20 seats, up to 28

In Wales, the Labour kept its majority, with 25 constituency seats out ot 40 but lost one seat to the separatist Plaid Cymru party. Twenty seats from five regions were still counte Friday morning.

Plaid Cymry will hold six constituency seats, the same number as the Conservatives.

Voters' mood

Thursday's election gave no clear indication of the voters' mood ahead of the EU referendum.

But with the Conservatives' gaining ground in Scotland and winning a few council seats, Cameron will not campaign as a weakened PM.

Even a defeat of the Tory candidate in London, Zac Goldsmith, could serve Cameron, as Goldsmith is a supported of a UK exit from the EU and was backed by the outgoing London mayor and "Leave" leader Boris Johnson.

For Labour, which has been mildly campaigning for the UK to stay in the EU, Thursday's results are likely to increase infighting and contestation of Corbyn's leadership.


Corbyn, a representative of the "old Labour" wing of the party, has been accused since his election as party leader of taking the party away from any chance of governing.

The SNP's result in Scotland will increase the stake of the EU referendum for the future of the UK.

The SNP's leader Nicola Sturgeon has said that she would organise a new referendum on Scotland's independence and would seek a EU membership if the UK voted for Brexit.

While Cameron is campaigning for the UK to stay in the EU, his party and electorate is split, and it was not clear Friday morning which side within the Conservative party would be strenghten by the Scottish result.

According to the latest polls, voting intentions for "Remain" are slightly ahead of "Leave" intentions, with 46 percent against 43 percent.

Column / Brexit Briefing

How Cameron's EU referendum silenced left-wing Britain

Most of the passion in an increasingly bitter campaign ahead of the 23 June vote comes from the Conservatives. Mobilisation on the left and by nationalists remains marginal.

Column / Brexit Briefing

Stereotypes abound in divided Britain

Remain or leave? As the EU question splits the British population down age, political leanings and education, neither side understands the motivation of the other.

Orban praises von der Leyen after first face-to-face

The EU Commission president-elect said she had a "good talk" with Hungary's controversial premier. Orban returned the praise, saying said the former German defence minister "thinks with [a] central Europeans' head".

Von der Leyen aims to 'rebalance Europe'

The German EU Commission president-elect hopes to bridge divisions within the EU, as she meets with EU leaders setting up her team of commissioners.

Johnson's call for new Brexit deal hits EU 'no'

The UK will not nominate a new EU commissioner, the new British PM said in his first address to parliament, and insisted that the Irish backstop can be renegotiated - without giving any specifics on alternative solutions.

News in Brief

  1. Ocean Viking to disembark in Malta after ordeal
  2. Germany joins France in world outcry on Brazil fires
  3. British people lose faith in Brexit deal
  4. Brexit hardliners want further changes to EU deal
  5. German manufacturers confirm fear of recession
  6. Belgian socialists and liberals scrap over EU post
  7. Fall in EU migration leading to UK skills shortages
  8. Switzerland makes post-Brexit flight preparations

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. Spain heading for yet another general election
  2. EU to discuss Brazil beef ban over Amazon fires
  3. 'Our house is burning,' Macron says on Amazon fires
  4. What happens when trafficking survivors get home
  5. EU states and Russia clash on truth of WW2 pact
  6. EU considers new rules on facial recognition
  7. EU to pledge Africa security funds at G7 summit
  8. Letter from the EESC on per diem article

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  4. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  7. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  12. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us