Local elections deal heavy losses

Deputy Politics Editor

Recent local elections have dealt a devastating blow to the Conservative Party who have suffered their worst defeat in English local elections since 1995. The Labour Party, who hoped to increase their seats, lost 82 seats.

Brexit has clearly been the dividing issue as the Liberal Democrats, who have campaigned against leaving the European Union, gained 703 seats.

Whether this suggests a change in leadership is wanted or, more broadly, that voters have changed their mind and no longer want to leave the EU, is not clear. What it does show is that the two main political parties are clearly out of favour, their continual bickering over Brexit having disenfranchised
them to voters.

People are clearly fed up with the amount of Brexit coverage

To suggest that Brexit has had nothing to do with these results is clearly false. Despite 53.4% of voters in England choosing to leave the EU in the 2016 referendum, the recent elections show a severe lack of trust in and the Conservatives as they have repeatedly failed to deliver an adequate plan for Brexit. Labour equally have been sullied by the Brexit debate as well as the party’s involvement in anti-Semitic accusations.

People are clearly tired of being inundated with updates about Brexit, with little else being reported in the news, Brexit is slowly alienating people from interest in parliamentary affairs.

The elections have only galvanised calls for May’s resignation. Speaking at the Welsh Party conference, May was heckled with calls from a party activist saying ‘we don’t want you’, followed by chants of ‘out, out, out!’ Previous backbencher, Michael Fabricant, described her leadership as a cancer that must be ‘excised’ from the party.

Hopefully this will push the leaders into greater collaboration

In response to the party’s losses May said: ‘I think people are say-
ing to us: “ We are sending a strong message, just get on and sort Brexit out, and do it.”’

Corbyn has also said that there is now a ‘huge impetus’ to get the
Brexit deal done. Clearly, both party leaders realise the devastating effect that the Brexit debate is having on their popularity. Hopefully this will push them together into greater collaboration.

However, Brexit is proving to cause tunnel-vision at the expense of domestic issues such as social care, health care funding, and housing. Getting the deal done or deciding whether to go to a second referendum is crucial not only to the survival of the Conservative and Labour Party, but also the key infrastructures of the country.

Photograph by EU2017EE Estonian Presidency

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