Local elections bring cheer for Theresa May

"We'll have to wait and see what the final results are - and overall, of course, the turnout is much lower than you get in a general election", said United Kingdom defence secretary Michael Fallon, playing down the Conservative gains.

However, within Scotland, the Conservatives had the biggest gains, up 164 seats to 276.

"We lost seats but we are closing the gap on the Conservatives", he said.

With just over a month to go until the General Election, the Tories were on 46 per cent in the survey of 2,005 voters, down just one point from the last Opinium poll on 25 April.

May also said she was not taking anything for granted.

Conservatives won the West of England metro mayor contest, while Labour claimed the mayoralties in Greater Manchester, won in the first round of voting by former cabinet minister Andy Burnham, Liverpool, Doncaster and North Tyneside.

Ukip's vote was "bleeding off to the Conservatives", Mr Kaufmann said - an analysis shared by party leader Paul Nuttall. UKIP lost all but one of the more than 100 council seats it held, as voters switched to the Conservatives now that UKIP's main goal had been achieved.

"I will not take anything for granted and neither will the team I lead", she said.

"It is pretty clear that Theresa May, on the strength of support in England, is going to win the General Election, so for people in Scotland, if they want strong voices standing up for Scotland's interests and holding the Tories to account in Westminster, that can only come from the SNP".

The Liberal Democrats increased their share of the vote by 7%, but lost almost 40 seats in total.

"We've had some hard results overnight".

May's party replaced Labour as the largest group in Nottinghamshire, Lancashire, Cumbria, Northumberland and Derbyshire.

John Curtice, a professor of politics at Strathclyde University in Glasgow, said the Conservatives had so far put in their best election performance since at least 2008, with an average swing of seven points from Labour since 2013.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell insisted the
election "hasn't been the
wipeout that people expected" after keeping hold of councils in south Wales.

Labour had 466 seats - a net loss of 137 - while the smaller, pro-EU Liberal Democrats, who had been hoping to pick up some momentum ahead of June's parliamentary election, had 167 seats, a net loss of 23.

The Conservative party have taken control of Warwickshire County Council, winning 36 of the 57 available seats.

'But we, the whole Labour movement and the British people, can't afford not to seize our moment'. "We did hear coming back from the doorsteps a message from traditional Labour voters that, in a campaign overshadowed by national issues, they are not feeling confident the party is strong in the Labour values".

Ian Lavery, Labour's national campaigns coordinator, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme it had been "a particularly difficult" set of elections for his party, which had suffered from the collapse of the Ukip vote.

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