English voters are expected to use local government elections on Thursday to punish Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party over its failure to deliver Brexit, revealing a divided and dissatisfied electorate.
More than 8,000 seats on English councils – administrative bodies responsible for day-to-day decisions on local policy ranging from education to waste management – are up for grabs in the first elections since Britain missed its March 29 Brexit date.
The results will paint a picture, albeit an imperfect one, of how that has affected support for May’s centre-right Conservative Party, and the leftist opposition Labour Party.
The Conservatives are forecast to lose hundreds of seats, and, according to one analysis, the final toll could top 1,000. Labour, which rejects May’s vision of Brexit but still supports leaving the bloc, are expected to make gains, as are the anti-Brexit Liberal Democrats.
That would heap more pressure on May to resign, showing that the deep dissatisfaction with her handling of Britain’s EU exit extends beyond party members into the wider population, angering both those who want to leave and those who want to stay.
“Never did I think a time would exist where I’d get abuse from Conservatives for telling Conservatives to vote for Conservatives, but here we are,” said Stephen Canning a local councillor campaigning for the Conservatives in a pro-Brexit part of south-east England.
May has been unable to persuade parliament to approve her plan for leaving the EU, forcing her to ask Brussels to extend Britain’s membership until October. She has turned to Labour in search of a compromise that could get enough support, but how, when, and even if, Britain will leave the EU remains unclear.
The first results are due to be released in the hours after polling closes at 2100 GMT on Thursday.
Robert Hayward, a polling specialist and former Conservative lawmaker, said he expected the Conservatives to lose more than 800 seats, Labour to gain fewer than 300 and the Liberal Democrats to pick up more than 500…https://reut.rs/2XYwflB