… elections were held for local offices and the Conservatives took a major shellacking, losing 1,269 seats leaving them currently holding 3,559. Labour lost too but just 63 seats, leaving them with 2,020, but they must be disappointed that the disgruntled Conservative voters did not switch to them. The big winners were the Liberal Democrats, the Greens, and assorted others who gained 676, 185, and 285 seats respectively. This is a resurrection of sorts for the Liberal Democrats, who had been given up for dead after being thoroughly repudiated in the last national elections following their disastrous coalition with David Cameron’s Conservative party.
It is clear that the voters are fed up with the Conservatives in general. But another question is what these results suggest about the country’s mood on Brexit. In the absence of a second referendum, people are looking at votes such as this as possible proxies to gauge sentiment but that is not an easy task since the parties represent more than just Brexit, and even on that issue the parties hardly speak with a unified voice. The Ukip party is the closest to a single issue party that led the charge for Brexit. It lost 36 seats to end up with just 31 but their numbers are too small to be a good gauge. The next possible proxy gauge vote will the elections to the European parliament to be held on May 23, when the UK will elect 73 people to that body that consists of 751 members from 28 countries.
The local election losses seem to have rattled the Conservatives and Labour parties sufficiently to pressure them to make a deal on Brexit and both parties are making noises in that direction. Conservatives are especially anxious since they do not want to take part in the elections to the EU parliament but must unless they can pass a deal in parliament by May 22. The rest of the EU countries must also be watching the UK elections for the EU parliament with some concern because there is a chance that a disgruntled electorate vote in die-hard Brexit supporters who see their main role as to disrupt proceedings.