TORIES face a tough time at this week’s local elections as they are threatened with losing hundreds of seats over Brexit.
Voters are fuming with the Government’s broken promises to deliver on the 2016 referendum, and are set to punish them this Thursday.
Polling experts predicted Theresa May’s party could lose 800 seats, with Labour, the Lib Dems, and Ukip getting chunks of their vote.
Two new parties, Change UK and the Brexit Party, aren’t standing in these local elections but have also been causing an upset.
Where and where are they being held?
The local polls will be held in parts of the country this Thursday, 2 May.
More than 8,000 seats are up for grabs on 38 councils in England, and 11 councils in Northern Ireland too.
Some councils only have a third of the seats up for grabs, such as Oldham, Sheffield, Coventry and Wigan.
But in other areas the council is facing election – including Bournemouth, Bath, Dorset and Luton.
Six mayoral elections will be held: for Bedford, Copeland, Leicester, Mansfield, Middlesborough and North of Tyne.
Northern Ireland is also holding elections for 462 seats on 11 councils.
If you are registered to vote you should have already been sent a polling card telling you which station to go to on the day – between 7am and 10pm.
Most of the seats were last contested back in 2015, on the same day of the general election where David Cameron’s Tories won an unexpected victory.
As a result the Tories are likely to do worse than before, and the turnout is set to be down too as no other major elections are taking place on the same day.
Deputy Chairwoman Helen Whately admitted yesterday they would be the chance to “kick the government” and suggested a difficult night was ahead.
What issues are on the agenda?
Councils are responsible for everything local in your area – from transport and parks to roads, social services and schools.
However, Brexit is set to dominate this week as Britain was supposed to leave the EU on March 29.
The PM’s now secured a second extension to our exit, meaning we won’t be out for months at least.
And she’s under intense pressure to step down from her MPs as a result.
The Tories will want to focus on local issues as much as possible and not talk about Brexit.
One MP told The Sun: “People are furious, we have a huge mountain to climb to get out of this.”
They will be chatting about bins, potholes, local services – and basically anything else but leaving the EU.
And they will also try and argue that Tory areas have lower council taxes than Labour areas as a bid to win over voters.
Labour also faces a tricky balance in their own party about how to handle Brexit – as Jeremy Corbyn continues to sit on the fence.
Half of his party want to campaign fully for a second Brexit vote, but the other half are desperate to keep Leave voters happy and promise to respect the result of the referendum.
Last week the party admitted there were several different leaflet designs in play for the poll.
They’ve announced they will spend £1.3billion a year reversing cuts to local bus services.
And the party has pledged more cash for social care reform including extra home help.
When do the results come in?
Polls will close at 10pm and the results will start to be counted overnight.
The first ones usually come in after midnight, but other councils who don’t count until the next day will take much more time to come through.
The first few results could be an indicator of what’s to come later in the evening – if the Tories are in trouble it will hinted at.
The results can be measured in several ways – the overall share of the vote, the number of seats won (and that compared to the number they had before), and the control of councils which could flip sides.
PM faces local election disaster at polls as voters unleash Brexit frustration
By Professor Matthew Goodwin, Professor of Politics, University of Kent
A PERFECT storm is approaching the Conservative Party.
Amid the catastrophic failure of Theresa May and her Government to deliver Brexit, and then her incredibly unpopular decision to work with the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Britain’s furious voters are looking for an outlet.
Leavers — who mainly vote Conservative — feel especially fed up. They tell researchers like me that Brexit has been terribly managed, their vote has been betrayed, politicians have let them down and politics is broken.
They ask: Why is Britain still in the EU and why is nobody listening?
While lots of council seats are up for grabs in Labour’s northern metropolitan boroughs, which will give us a taste of what voters think about Mr Corbyn’s drift towards a soft Brexit, voters will also head to the polls in traditional “true blue” and often pro-Brexit Conservative territory.
Such is the anger over Brexit and the dismay at the state of Mrs May’s leadership that many Conservative activists are refusing to campaign, while I suspect thousands of Conservatives won’t even bother to vote.
While the latest forecasts suggest that the Conservatives could lose between 500 and 1,000 seats, I’ll be looking closely at what’s happening on the ground in pro-Brexit Conservative councils such as Medway in Kent, North Lincolnshire, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire.
If you see Mrs May’s vote collapsing in these kinds of areas then it’s a good sign that the Conservatives are about to face an almighty second punch at an election that will shortly follow.
Who will do well?
Certainly not the Conservatives at the way things are going.
Although pollsters don’t ask how people will be voting at local polls, the Tories’ ratings if there were another general election have dropped by around ten percentage points in the last month alone.
Labour has picked up a small part of the votes alongside smaller parties Change UK and Ukip.
ChangeUK isn’t standing candidates on Thursday but you can expect pro-Brexit party Ukip to hoover up some votes from frustrated Tories.
However, Ukip has pushed to the right in recent months and could put more moderate Brexiteers off giving them their vote.
The Tories been being squeezed in the polls by the Brexit Party, but they aren’t standing in the locals, and are focusing on the EU poll next month instead.
Many Brits might not turn out to vote at all out of total frustration over the whole thing.
Or they could back completely independent candidates in the hope of something completely different with a fresh start.
One MP told The Sun: “Turnout will be low – but who will stay at home the most?
“The danger for us is that as the Government we take most of the responsibility and Labour’s core vote is a bit more tribal.”
Another predicted that the locals would be a poor result for everyone and wouldn’t change much at all.
How will it affect Brexit?
A Tory wipeout will lead to more calls for the PM to quit and let someone else take over.
Any poor result will weaken Mrs May and could collapse even more support for her beleaguered deal.
If she did quit, it’s likely a more hardline Tory would take her place like Boris Johnson or Dominic Raab, and that could have a huge effect on the way Brexit goes next.
They want to re-open the deal, or go for a No Deal Brexit if they can’t get their demands met.
But the PM’s currently vowing to carry on trying to push her deal through no matter how the results come out, so there’s a strong chance these polls won’t change much at all.
Sunderland: This is always one area to look at on election night as it tends to give us a good picture of what might happen across the country.
But local elections don’t always show the same results as general elections.
Scarborough: just one seat is needed to gain the council from the Tories. If they managed to pull it off, it might be a small win in what could be a tough night for them.
Broxtowe: Ex-Tory MP Anna Soubry defected to ChangeUK earlier this year – if voters want to punish her they could use the locals to do it.
Maidenhead: Will Theresa May face a mutiny in her own backyard?
Calderdale, Trafford, Milton Keynes and Dudley are areas Labour are hoping to make gains to give them control, or push them out of a minority administration.
Cheshire West and Chester has a majority of just one – could the Tories do well and pinch it back off them?
What Britain thinks ahead of the local elections
How would you vote in a general election?
Conservatives 27 per cent, Labour 30 per cent, Lib Dems 11 per cent, Ukip 4 per cent, Green five per cent, ChangeUK three per cent, Brexit Party 14 per cent. (YouGov 24 April)
How would you vote in an EU election?
Brexit Party 28 per cent, Labour 28 per cent, Conservatives 14 per cent, Lib Dems seven per cent, ChangeUK seven per cent, Green six per cent, Ukip three per cent.
Remain or Leave the EU?
52 per cent Remain, 38 per cent Leave (ComRes 16 April)
How are the Government handling the Brexit negotiations?
83 per cent disapprove (ORB 2 March)
Who would make the best Prime Minister?
May 29 per cent, Corbyn 20 per cent. (YouGov 3 April)
Northern Ireland: Will the DUP maintain a strong position there as they continue to fight for the union and oppose Mrs May’s Brexit deal?
Any signs that they are losing support could worry the Tories who are in coalition with the 10 DUP MPs after 2017’s general election.
Winchester: The Liberal Democrats only need one seat to gain control of the council here.
Don’t watch: uncontested seats.
There are 300 wards which won’t be worth watching too closely as there’s no opponents or one party is guaranteed to win.
For 148 seats we’ll know the results of before the polls even open, most of them are in the East Midlands.