Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservatives have lost hundreds of seats in local elections, with the pressure on May expected to increase as more results are declared on Friday.
After the results of around half of the 8,000 seats in 248 English councils were declared, the Conservatives had lost more than 440 seats while the main opposition party, Labour, had lost nearly 80 seats.
The Liberal Democrats were the biggest winners, gaining more than 300 seats, according to the early results. Independents also won 200 additional seats.
Many analysts and politicians said the delay and uncertainty over Britain leaving the European Union was a major factor in the swing against the two main parties.
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, seen as a possible leadership contender when May steps down, tweeted that the results “look at this stage like a slap in the face for both the main parties.”
“My heart goes out to Conservative councillors who have lost their seats,” Hunt added.
Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable tweeted that he was travelling to the eastern city of Chelmsford on Friday, where his party won control of the city council from the Conservatives, to “celebrate best @libdems local election results in at least 15 years.”
“In big cities and rural England – in both [Brexit] Leave and Remain areas – we have shown ourselves the strongest campaigning force and the big winners of the night,” Cable wrote. “Three-party politics is back.”