Tories gain ground in local elections as Ukip faces wipeout

Initial results show Conservatives on course for victory, while Labour and Ukip sustain heavy losses

Ballots are counted by count staff at the Mid-Ulster count for the Northern Ireland Assembly elections in Ballymena, Co Antrim, Northern Ireland, on March 3, 2017. Northern Ireland has voted
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The Tories are on track for an emphatic victory across England and Wales as counting continues in local and mayoral elections.

Both Labour and Ukip have sustained heavy losses in a number of English councils, with Ukip losing every seat it held so far.

John Curtice, professor of politics at Strathclyde University, told the BBC the party has "done remarkably badly" and that Jeremy Corbyn's Labour has experienced its "worst result" since the 2010 general election.

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Former Ukip leadership candidate Lisa Duffy told BBC Radio 4 the result was "challenging".

She said: "I won't use the word 'disaster'; I'll use the word 'challenging.' We knew it was going to be a difficult night."

The Guardian reports on the results from ten councils in England that have been declared so far, with Dorset, Essex, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Isle of Wight, Lincolnshire, Somerset and Warwickshire going to the Conservatives and Cumbria having no overall control.

The results for Labour are similar in Wales, with council seats heading to the Conservatives, alongside a surge in independent candidates.

However, the party's Ros Jones easily retained her position of mayor of Doncaster, securing 57.9 per cent of the vote.

In West of England, where the mayoral fight went to second preferences, Conservative Tim Bowles (70,300) narrowly edged out Labour's Lesley Mansell (65,923).

Counting in all 32 Scottish councils is due to begin at 9am today, with results due around 11.30am.

The results so far greatly increase the prospect of "a sweeping Conservative General Election victory", says the Daily Telegraph.

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