Britain’s Conservative Party made strong gains in local elections on Friday, suggesting Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit strategy is winning over voters who should hand her an easy victory in a parliamentary poll on June 8.
Early results from the local elections, which voters often use to punish the ruling party, showed May’s Conservatives had instead gained more than 200 council seats.
The main opposition Labour Party lost control of councils in Wales, but the biggest losses were suffered by the anti-EU UK Independence Party, which after two decades of campaigning to leave the EU has struggled to find a new raison d’etre since Britons voted for Brexit in June 2016.
By calling an early national election for next month, May has made the local votes a gauge of her leadership, and many Conservative candidates have campaigned in recent days using her campaign mantra of “strong and stable leadership.”
But turnout was low and the Conservatives were careful not to overplay their expected victory next month, which could reshape the British political landscape for years to come.
“[They are] encouraging results but I am cautious about predicting the general election on them,” Defense Minister Michael Fallon told BBC radio.
Labour also played down its losses. Finance spokesman John McDonnell described the results as tough, but “it hasn’t been the wipeout that some people predicted or the polls predicted.”