Local elections in the UK: for or against Brexit

In the local elections in Britain last week the two major parties, the Tories and Labour, suffered considerable losses. By contrast the Liberal Democrats, who are against Brexit, made impressive gains. Prime Minister Theresa May interpreted the results as a call to the major parties to get on with Brexit. A number of commentators take a different view.

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The Observer (GB) /

Main parties are misinterpreting the message

The Tories and Labour need to draw the right conclusions after the local elections, The Observer warns:

“It seems extraordinary that both main parties appear to have extracted a 'just get on with Brexit' message from these results. ... The number of spoilt ballots suggests real frustration among some leave voters. But the gains made by pro-remain parties show that remain voters are as likely to punish the main parties for their Brexit positions.”

tagesschau.de (DE) /

In three weeks' time other parties will win

Tagesschau.de doesn't see the electoral gains of the Brexit opponents as a reason to get excited:

“Because there have been no changes either in the national division over Brexit or in the majority situation in the House of Commons. This will be confirmed and even reinforced in the EU elections in three weeks' time: Brexiteers will flood to Nigel Farage's new Brexit Party, which did not run in the local elections, but achieved over 20 percent in the polls as soon as it was launched. And the Lib Dems will be competing for remain votes with ChangeUK, the new party made up of former Labour and Tory MPs, which also did not run in the local elections but which appeals to the same voter segment.”

Keskisuomalainen (FI) /

Two-party system not over yet

The election results are unlikely to lead to any radical changes in the British political landscape, observes Keskisuomalainen:

“Regardless of the problems that the two parties have, it is too early to start predicting the end of the two-party system because the majority election system is so firmly entrenched. The two large parties will probably be able to hold on to their strong positions in parliament even if their percentage of the votes falls dramatically. ... There is no doubt, however, that the Brexit process has caused the popularity of the Tory party in particular to plummet. In the polls the party has lost almost 15 percentage points since the beginning of the year and looks set to lose another 10 percentage points in the EU elections.”