UK Conservative lead stays strong ahead of June election: Opinium poll

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Labour faces a challenge on a "historic scale" if it is to win the General Election on June 8, Jeremy Corbyn has said, after the party suffered heavy losses in the local council polls.

Prime Minister Theresa May's party gained more than 300 extra council seats and at least two mayoralties in England, mostly benefiting from UKIP losses.

"We will have to wait and see what the final results are? and overall, of course, the turnout is much lower than you get in a general election", said United Kingdom defence secretary Michael Fallon, playing down the Conservative gains earlier today.

The early results suggested that the Conservatives had grabbed votes from both Labour and UKIP, signalling that May's bid to position her party in the political centre ground and take a strong stance on Brexit may be paying dividends.

It was perhaps not overly surprising it failed to win seats in other areas of the county, but to end the election empty-handed in Thanet, in particular - a Ukip heartland in recent years, where it won control of its first district council in 2015 - was indicative of its growing decline in the minds of the electorate.

Electoral contests were held Thursday for local councils in Scotland, Wales and many parts of England, as well as mayoral competitions in several cities.

The Conservatives made sweeping advances across the United Kingdom, gaining more than 500 councillors, winning tightly-fought battles for elected mayors in the West Midlands and Tees Valley and forcing Labour into third place in its former stronghold of Scotland.

They won tightly-fought battles for elected mayors in the West Midlands and Tees Valley and forced Labour into third place in its former stronghold of Scotland.

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The leader's allies desperately tried to explain the mauling, but it marks a horrendous opening to a general election campaign which will see voters go to the polls in just over a month.

It became clear early on that the Conservatives were set to be the big winners in the local elections.

Liberal Democrats had a mixed election.

Leader Tim Farron told supporters his party was now "breathing down Labour's necks" but warned that the Prime Minister was still heading for a "coronation" in the General Election.

The Scottish National Party (SNP), which campaigned for remaining in the European Union and is committed to independence from the United Kingdom, took a majority of votes north of the English border to remain the biggest party in the council elections with a total of 431 seats.

Many of the Tory council gains - which include areas such as Derbyshire, East Sussex, Norfolk, Gloucestershire, Isle of Wight, Lincolnshire, Warwickshire and Monmouthshire - came at the expense of UKIP, whose vote has collapsed. It lost 143 seats, every one it was defending so far.

Labour held key councils in Cardiff, Swansea and Newport, but lost control of Bridgend, where Mrs May had targeted with a campaign visit.