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Local elections 1) The Conservatives lose 1,300 councillors, the worst results since 1995

“The Conservatives have suffered their worst local election result since Tony Blair’s humiliation of John Major a quarter of a century ago as they lost 1,269 council seats. Theresa May faced a chorus of demands to quit as Tory leader from her own MPs and members after she was personally blamed for a devastating voter backlash over Brexit. On a night described as “brutal” by the Tory MP Vicky Ford, who appeared close to tears during a live TV interview, thousands of voters spoilt their ballot papers to register personal protests while others expressed their dismay with the mainstream parties by backing independents. Labour, which had expected to profit from the Conservatives’ failure to deliver Brexit, ended up losing dozens of seats as Jeremy Corbyn became the least successful Opposition leader of the past 40 years.” – Daily Telegraph

  • The results in full – BBC
  • Conservatives must change course, or die – Leader, Daily Telegraph

>Today: ToryDiary: The local election aftermath. May and Corbyn are like two spooked children, drawing nearer for comfort as the thunder rages.

>Yesterday:

Local elections 2) There is worse to come, warns Javid.

“Home Secretary Sajid Javid admitted voters had “issues of trust” over Brexit, and said the European elections would “be even more challenging”. But, in a rallying cry to Conservatives in Aberdeen, he said that “a divided party cannot unite a divided nation”…The home secretary said the party risked losing voters’ trust after “not delivering on a promise at the heart of our last manifesto”. And, speaking about the European elections, due to take place on 23 May, he said: “We shouldn’t be surprised if people tick the protest box on the ballot paper. “Without anything else at stake, it will be a verdict on the delivery of Brexit.” – BBC

  • Home Secretary vows to secure more funding for the police – The Sun

Local elections 3) May to be told she must set a departure date

“Theresa May will be told by senior Tories that she must set a date for her departure next week after their party was given its worst drubbing in local elections in almost a quarter of a century…The head of the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers, Sir Graham Brady, will meet the prime minister when the Commons returns on Tuesday to request that she set a timetable for her departure. It is understood that Sir Graham met Mrs May before the elections on Thursday but agreed to defer the committee’s demand for her to set a date to leave until after the vote. Yesterday a source on the committee said that if Mrs May refused to set a date they could move to rewrite the rules to allow a fresh no-confidence vote in her leadership. Priti Patel, the former cabinet minister, led calls for Mrs May to go while Sir David Amess, the MP for Southend West, called on the 1922 Committee to “take action”.” – The Times

  • How can the battered Tories defend ­themselves with a leader who’s keeping them on their knees? – Leader, The Sun
  • “One member of  the 1922 Committee – has already told colleagues that he has changed his mind and would now favour a rule change to allow a challenge” – James Forsyth, The Sun

.>Today: Dinah Glover on Comment: The Prime Minister lacks empathy, negotiates badly – and doesn’t lead. The Conservative Party needs to get her out now.

>Yesterday: WATCH: May heckled at the Welsh Conservative conference. “Why don’t you resign?”

Local elections 4) Labour lost seats too

“Labour had expected to make gains, but instead suffered a net loss, and lost control of a string of councils, including Burnley, Darlington and Wirral….Many Labour MPs suggested the results underlined the urgency for Labour to shift to a full-throated remain position. But Corbyn insisted: “I think it means there’s a huge impetus on every MP, and they’ve all got that message, whether they themselves are leave or remain – or the people across the country – that an arrangement has to be made, a deal has to be done. Parliament has to resolve this issue – I think that is very, very clear.” Close Corbyn allies Ian Lavery and Richard Burgon echoed his message, saying Brexit was detracting from a string of other crucial issues, while shadow chancellor John McDonnell said the message from voters was: “Brexit – sort it.” – The Guardian

  • Sir Tony Robinson resign from the Labour Party – The Sun
  • McDonnell had predicted 400 net gains – Daily Express
  • How Corbyn was snared in a death trap by trying to appeal to either side of the Brexit debate but ended up offending both – Peter Oborne, Daily Mail

Local elections 5) Lib Dems “feeling tiggerish”

“Sir Vince Cable, who is preparing to stand down as leader, described his party as the “big success story of the night”. He took a swipe at Change UK, which also backs a second Brexit referendum, saying: “We are clearly the dominant, successful Remain party.” Change UK was not formed in time to compete in the local elections but will field candidates in the European elections on May 23. A Lib Dem source said that their party had “a bounce in our step and we are feeling Tiggerish”, a play on Change UK’s first name, the Independent Group (TIG), and the Tiggers nickname given to its members. …On a bruising night for the two main parties, the Lib Dems scored a victory in Leave-supporting Chelmsford, Essex, where they are now in control of the council. They also took councils including North Devon, North Norfolk, Winchester, Cotswold and Vale of White Horse in Oxfordshire…The Lib Dems also did well in typically strong Labour areas like Hull and Barnsley. Lib Dem sources played down the idea that the party was simply the beneficiary of protest votes, pointing out that it had taken seats in areas where it had a strong local history.” – The Times

Local elections 6) Charge of the independents

“A community fed up with party politics has seized control of its council as independent candidates made big gains across the country. Voters in Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, elected a new independent party to 30 of the council’s 35 seats amid anger at Brexit wrangling. Only three Conservative councillors and two Labour survived as 65 per cent of the working-class district’s voters backed the Ashfield Independents, with candidates in some wards taking 90 per cent of the vote. The humiliation for Labour in Ashfield came as independent candidates made sweeping gains across the UK, with more than 575 new councillors elected and 997 independents taking seats. In North Kesteven, Lincolnshire, the Tories lost control as eight independents were elected, while in the Labour heartland of Bolsover, Derbyshire the party lost control of the district council for the first time in 40 years. Among 11 new independents was Ross Walker, a bricklayer who went into politics after the council cut down a sycamore tree commemorating his grandfather.” – The Times

Local elections 7) Green Party boasts of “phenomenal gains”

“The Greens have hailed a “phenomenal” set of local election results… Bartley’s co-leader, Siân Berry, said the party had won its first councillors in areas not seen as traditionally Green areas, including South Tyneside, Sunderland, Colchester, Folkestone and the Cotswolds. “We’ve broken through on to the councils to become the new voice,” she told BBC News. “We’ve done that through hard work, basically. I can pretty confidently say we’re going to have a record number of Greens on a record number of councils.” In Sunderland, the Greens defeated Labour in Washington South. In South Tyneside, the party crushed Labour as its candidate took more than two-thirds of the vote to become the first Green member of the council.” – The Guardian

Local elections 8) Thousands of spoiled ballot papers

“Election results were delayed in parts of England overnight after so many people had deliberately spoilt their ballot papers. Some voters scribbled ‘Brexit means Brexit’, ‘Get May out and us out of the EU’ or ‘traitors’ on their forms and refused to mark crosses against any candidates’ names. Each of the spoilt papers had to be individually adjudicated and the number to be examined was higher than normal in Ipswich, Suffolk – delaying the result….In Basildon alone there were 800 spoilt ballot papers, reported BBC Essex. Brexit Party MEP candidate Michael Heaver said the figure showed ‘huge anger out there’.  It was 200 in Immingham, Lincolnshire, with councillor David Watson saying: ‘That is a phenomenal amount. The residents have disengaged with the political process.’  Meanwhile there were 414 in Castle Point, 600 in Tendring and 539 in Chelmsford, all in Essex, plus 647 in Folkestone & Hythe, Kent, and 693 in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk.” – Daily Mail

Local elections 9) DUP “holding up” in Northern Ireland results so far

“It was a good day for the Alliance and a bad one for the UUP and the TUV. Sinn Fein and the DUP look to be holding up their vote. Greens and People Before Profit had notable victories while the new pro-life party Aontu secured its first seat. Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon (which finished up at 6am), Lisburn and Castlereagh, and Mid Ulster councils have all completed meaning with still have eight councils still to declare.” – Belfast Telegraph

  • Son of murdered prison officer ‘ecstatic’ as he thanks supporters after election – Belfast Telegraph

Local elections 10) Rees-Mogg: It could be a blessing in disguise

“People who normally vote Tory either stayed at home or voted for a protest party, be it Liberal Democrats, Greens or independents. Labour suffered too because it also failed to deliver on its Brexit promises. Thus, the warning shot has been fired and the Conservative Party must heed it. While the importance of local government must not be understated, this could possibly be a blessing in disguise as it now gives the Tories the opportunity to make the things right that have gone wrong. Inevitably, this will be with a new leader. Mrs May has already announced that she will retire before the next election but it must be someone who will advocate Conservative principles, put them into action and ensure that promises and deeds match.” – Jacob Rees-Mogg, Daily Telegraph

Local elections 11) Parris: These results show remainers must unite

“Surely this cries out for a temporary alliance of Remain-leaning political movements, and a temporary coming-together of Remain-leaning voters? It’s too late for this in the European elections due on May 23. Change UK appears to have blocked co-operation. The Lib Dems are open to it. The Greens just might. But a leaked alleged strategy document from the Tiggers makes ugly reading. “Strategy: Win over LD activists and members . . . attract support and resources from LD backers . . . draw attention to any ex-LD [parliamentary candidates] joining TIG . . .”. Change UK’s response when this was published was hardly a denial. And an article by Umunna, defending his party’s disinclination to get into bed with anyone else, was shot through with an overconfident, even conceited, expectation of a moment that never came.” – Matthew Parris, The Times

  • The Voters’ Verdict – Leader, The Times
  • Something is rotten in Britain’s political system – Leader, Financial Times

Leadership 1) Davis declares for Raab

“We will need a leader with focus and drive, a combination of conviction and tenacity. There is no shortage of talent in our party, but the demands on him or her will be great. Bluntly Brexit alone will require a unique combination of intellect, determination, decisiveness and courage. The next stage of Brexit, and the coming election will both be a real test of the character of the next prime minister. With all these considerations the standout candidate is Dominic Raab, so I will back him if he runs. I have known and worked with Dominic over the last 13 years so I know he has the vision and personal attributes required to lead us at these crossroads in our history.” – David Davis, Daily Mail

Leadership 2) Gove claims to be a team player

“Michael Gove has insisted he has not “gone soft” on Brexit as he pledged to strive to get it “over the line” in the wake of the Tories’ disastrous local election results…Speaking from his parents’ home in Aberdeen, he also said he had learned from his botched 2016 Tory leadership campaign and insisted he was now a team player. Although he refused to be drawn on whether he intends to stand again in the race to succeed Theresa May, he argued that his conduct since being “recalled from the subs bench” showed his fellow Tory MPs that he is trustworthy. With his mother and father watching on, he paid tribute to them for instilling in him compassion and being unafraid to tell him “home truths” over his mistakes.” – Interview with Michael Gove, Daily Telegraph

Leadership 3) Hunt speaks out against the Customs Union

“Jeremy Hunt makes another thinly veiled leadership pitch by speaking out against the prospect of Britain staying in a customs union with the EU after Brexit. The Foreign Secretary warned that it would fail British exporters because the UK would have no say in trade deals the EU signs with third countries.His comments came in an interview with the Press Association where he refused to reveal the naughtiest thing he has done – because it’s too X-rated. But the Foreign Secretary said it was “definitely naughtier than running through a wheat field,” which Theresa May famously said was the naughtiest thing she had ever done.” – The Sun

  • Foreign Secretary’s wife is his “secret weapon” – Daily Telegraph

Leadership 4) Hancock: “Voters want the centre, not the extremes”

” ‘We need to deliver Brexit and then turn the page and we need to deliver from the centre ground,” says Matt Hancock. The 40-year-old health secretary could be the new-generation Conservative leadership candidate. He is wearing jeans, a T-shirt and trainers when we meet the morning after the local elections at a café packed with mothers and babies in Kensal Rise, northwest London, where he orders us all a latte and fried banana bread and leans back to discuss the results….He dislikes the way some in his party, including the prime minister, have disparaged “citizens of nowhere” who haven’t stayed close to their roots….”We need the Conservatives to be not just comfortable with modern Britain but champions of modern Britain.” – Interview with Matt Hancock, The Times

Sedwill accused of failing to investigate troop numbers leak

“Sir Mark Sedwill, the man behind the leak inquiry that led to Gavin Williamson’s sacking, has been accused of refusing to investigate a leak which risked putting soldiers’ lives in danger. Allies of the former minister claimed Sir Mark had declined to intervene when a newspaper reported that the Ministry of Defence was to almost double the number of soldiers in Afghanistan. Mr Williamson was so concerned that the story would compromise troop safety that he had tried to issue a D-Notice – the mechanism used to prevent newspapers reporting the most sensitive security issues. Sir Mark, however, declined to instigate a leak inquiry despite two separate requests from the then minister, according to Mr Williamson’s allies.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy demands to see the evidence against Williamson – The Sun

Davidson promises an end to “constitutional games”

“Ruth Davidson will deliver a withering assessment of Nicola Sturgeon’s record in government on Saturday as she promises “no more constitutional games and no more referendums” if she becomes Scotland’s next First Minister. The Scottish Conservative leader will tell delegates at the party conference that the country must “get out of the trenches of the last decade of Yes and No, Leave and Remain”. Setting out her plan to replace Ms Sturgeon in 2021 she will pledge to build a better Scotland now, using the Scottish Parliament’s powers, rather than blaming Westminster and “agitating for independence”.- Daily Telegraph

News in brief

  • The age of political volatility – Sunder Katwala, CapX
  • How the Tories can turn their dire election results around – James Forsyth, The Spectator
  • Grieve escapes deselection proceedings despite losing confidence vote – Independent
  • This climate change fantasy will cripple our economy – Benny Peiser, Conservative Woman
  • Neoliberals must retake the reins of the Conservative Party –  Samuel Prosser, 1828

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