May survives "assault" on London by rival Labour in local election

Canvassers watch the count at Wandsworth in north London where the Conservatives were fighting a rearguard action against Labour

But May's party lost control of the highly prized council in the Trafford area of the northern city of Manchester - its only foothold in an important Labour-dominated economic region where the Conservatives have spent years trying to win support.

The biggest Tory successes were outside London in areas where Labour should be challenging to win parliamentary seats. Labour managed to bridge this divide better, winning 53 seats in Remain areas and losing only ten in Leave areas, producing a net gain of 43.

So overall a pretty mixed bag.

Conservative Brexiters have seized on the party's local election results as a vindication of their hard line on the customs union, presaging the argument cabinet ministers are likely to make next week when the Brexit subcommittee meets to try and break the deadlock.

Our early analysis shows the Conservatives lost as many seats as they gained across the Brexit divide.

Before the election, the Conservatives held 16 seats, UKIP eight, Labour three and Independents two. They do not affect seats in parliament, where May has only a slim working majority thanks to a deal with a smaller party.

The Conservative MP Paul Scully, the party's vice-chair for London who co-ordinated much of the campaign in the capital, said fears the party could be wiped out in London were genuine. The Conservatives also benefitted greatly from UKIP's monumental collapse as the openly and largely racist vote transfers to them.

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Labour - hoping to capitalise on its softer Brexit position - had a broadly positive night in the capital, albeit one that was far from decisive.

But Mr Corbyn's ally, shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon, told the programme: 'It's very rare in these local elections that people have been - when I have been knocking on doors - raising Jeremy's leadership in a negative way. The party suffered heavy losses in Richmond-upon-Thames, as well as Tandridge just south of the capital, at the hands of the Liberal Democrats, and in Redbridge most notably at the hands of Labour. Labour's vote share there rose by around 5% on 2014.

The results now mean the Conservatives have 28 seats, Labour have five, the Liberal Democrats two, UKIP one and one Independent.

As certain disgruntled Labour Party figures join Conservatives and much of the media in portraying a Labour council victory (Labour up 77 to 2,350 councillors as Tories lose 33 councillors - down to 1,332 - full results below) as a shameful defeat.

Cllr Rosemary Carroll, who made a post comparing an Asian with a dog last June, rejoined "as the votes were being counted" on Friday, giving the Tories control of Pendle Council in Lancashire for the first time in 39 years.

On a visit to Wandsworth she praised campaigners' efforts in seeing off a Labour challenge which had seen the streets flooded with activists, including members of the Corbyn-backing Momentum campaign.

"I think some of the predictions about the outcome (have been) a bit wild, but we will be campaigning across the country, as we have been, to return more Labour councillors and have more Labour councils to protect people from the impact of Tory (Conservative) austerity", a Labour spokesman said.

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