Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservatives are expected to lose hundreds of seats in local elections on Thursday, adding to the pressure on May as she tries to resolve a political crisis over her plan for Britain to leave the European Union.
According to forecasts, the Conservatives are expected to lose up to 800 seats in voting for more than 8,000 members of 260 councils in most of England, excluding London, and Northern Ireland.
Some 60 per cent of those seats are currently held by Conservatives.
May has agreed to step down as Conservative leader and prime minister once she has won parliamentary approval of a Brexit deal. She is likely to face more calls to resign earlier if Thursday’s elections prove disastrous for the party.
Local governments will declare the election results late Thursday and early Friday.
May told lawmakers on Wednesday that she still hopes to reach a compromise with the main opposition party, Labour, on a Brexit deal that would keep Britain in some form of customs union with the EU.
Opinion polls suggest that the repositioned right-wing, pro-Brexit UK Independence Party is likely to make the biggest gain in vote share in Thursday’s elections.
The rival Brexit Party, founded by former UKIP leader Nigel Farage, is not contesting the local elections but is expected to make a major impact if Britain takes part in elections to the European Parliament later this month.