Thursday

23rd May 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.

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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.

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