A Conservative prime minister who is as incompetent as she is intransigent. A government which has managed the Brexit process in spectacularly woeful fashion. And a Tory Party which, not for the first time in its history, is ripping itself apart over Europe.
Yet in the latest local elections, the Labour Party still managed to lose 84 councillors. Yes, the Conservative Party lost 1,330 seats, an undeniable disaster. But under such favourable conditions, Labour should have been gaining hundreds of new councillors, not ending the night with a deficit.
Remainers are now using the successful results of the Liberal Democrats and the Greens – who have gained a combined total of nearly 900 councillors – to steam ahead with their anti-democratic efforts to overturn the result of the June 2016 EU referendum. Many of those pushing this line are Labour Remainers, who are still utterly miffed by the fact that 17.4million people – including millions of natural Labour voters – voted to leave the EU, posing a popular challenge to their beloved status quo.
But this framing of the local election results as a ‘Remainer backlash’ is questionable, to say the least. It is important to note that as well as the success of the Liberal Democrats and Greens, there was a net gain of 661 councillors running either as independents or for minor parties – something which has been overlooked by many. This included a stunning result in the Barnsley ward of Darfield, where the pro-Leave Democrats and Veterans Party (DVP), founded in 2018 by ex-UKIP member and Gulf War veteran Gavin Felton, gained the ward from Labour.
In addition to this, the explicitly pro-Leave Brexit Party – riding high in European Parliament pre-election polls – did not stand candidates in the local elections. UKIP, no longer the beneficiaries of Nigel Farage’s charismatic leadership, has been tarnished in the eyes of many Leave voters by its close association with Tommy Robinson. Therefore, credible pro-Brexit options were few and far between for many disenchanted Leave voters across England.