Local elections in England and Northern Ireland show major Brexit backlash

/ CBS/AP

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May attends the Welsh Conservative party conference at Llangollen, Wales, May 3, 2019. Britain's main Conservative and Labour parties took a hammering in local elections as Brexit-weary voters expressed frustration over the country's stalled departure from the European Union. AP

London — Britain's main Conservative and Labour parties took a hammering in local elections as Brexit-weary voters expressed frustration over the country's stalled departure from the European Union. With results in from more than two-thirds of the 259 local authorities up for grabs, the governing Conservatives had lost more than 700 seats. The left-of-center opposition Labour Party, which had hoped to increase its tally of local councilors, lost 87.

The Conservatives had previously held about 60 percent of the more than 8,000 seats being contested across England and Northern Ireland. Elections are not being held in London, Scotland or Wales.

Almost three years after Britain voted narrowly to quit the EU, both the date and terms of departure remain unclear amid political gridlock in Parliament.

Brexit: Britain breaks with EU More

More in Brexit: Britain breaks with EU

Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May said the election results carried a "simple message" for both Conservatives and Labour: "Just get on and deliver Brexit."

Still divided

But the country is still split over leaving the EU; the rejection of both main parties reflected frustration from both pro-Brexit voters and supporters of Britain's EU membership.

EU leaders and British Prime Minister Theresa May agree to Brexit extension

"The people that voted to remain blame us for leaving and the people that voted to leave blame us because we haven't left yet," said Conservative politician Tim Warren, who lost his seat on Bath and North East Somerset Council in southwest England.

He said voters' mood was "almost anti-political … I think they want to punish us for a lack of action in government."

Many Labour members blamed the party's poor showing on its ambivalent position on Brexit. The party supports the decision to leave the bloc – to the frustration of many Labour members and lawmakers, who are largely pro-EU – but opposes May's divorce deal.

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said voters' message "seems to be 'a plague on both your houses' to the Conservatives and the Labour Party, who they see as a block on finding some sort of resolution to Brexit."

Pro-EU parties make gains

The biggest surge in votes went to the centrist, pro-EU Liberal Democrats, who gained more than 400 council seats. The Green Party, which is also against exiting the EU, and independents running on local issues also made gains.

"Voters have sent a clear message that they no longer have confidence in the Conservatives, but they are also refusing to reward Labour while the party prevaricates on the big issue of the day: Brexit," said Lib Dem leader Vince Cable.

The Liberal Democrat Party Conference 2018
Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable takes part in a question and answer session at the Liberal Democrat Party Conference at the Brighton Centre, September 16, 2018 in Brighton, England. Getty

The Conservatives and Labour are bracing for even worse results in European Parliament elections in three weeks.

Britain was due to have left the EU well before the European vote, but the departure has been delayed until Oct. 31 because Prime Minister Theresa May has been unable to get Parliament's backing for her divorce deal with the EU.

In those European elections on May 23, the main parties face additional opposition from new forces on the political scene – the anti-EU Brexit Party and the pro-European Change UK. Neither ran in Thursday's local elections.

First published on May 3, 2019 / 11:14 AM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Britain Local Elections The Liberal Democrat Party Conference 2018

CBS News Poll Analysis: Majority of Democrats want a candidate who will unite the country

Findings show the most liberal Democrats prefer a promoter of more liberal policies

1H ago

Pepsi ends suit against Indian farmers over potato used in Lay's

After discussions with government, food giant says it is ending case against small farmers over right to use spud

1H ago

Chewbacca actor Peter Mayhew dies at 74

The actor behind the iconic Chewbacca in the original "Star Wars" trilogy has died

1H ago

Breast implants tied to rare cancer to remain on market

The FDA says the risks do not warrant a national ban

1H ago

Pete Davidson runs into his "bae," Hillary Clinton

Davidson famously has Clinton's face tattooed on his leg

1H ago

Michael Cohen reporting to prison Monday

He'll be at the same federal prison as the Fyre Festival fraudster

2H ago

Trump administration loosening offshore drilling safety rules

The safety requirements were imposed after the 2019 BP Deepwater Horizon explosion

1H ago

Jay Inslee unveils plan for 100 percent clean energy by 2030

"This has to be the number one priority for the next president of the United States," Inslee told CBS News in an interview

3H ago

Campaigns contend with cybersecurity in 2020 race

Cybersecurity is more important than ever before for candidates after 2016

3H ago

Swalwell proposes protections for the press

Presidential candidate and California congressman proposes protections for the press as part of his campaign

4H ago

Anti-Brexit parties make big gains in U.K. local elections

Voters in England and Northern Ireland make it clear they're fed up with the two main parties' efforts to bring Britain out of the EU

26M ago

Pepsi ends suit against Indian farmers over potato used in Lay's

After discussions with government, food giant says it is ending case against small farmers over right to use spud

1H ago

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirms engagement

Ardern, who was lauded for her reaction to the attack on mosques in her country, already has a baby girl with partner Clarke Gayford

1H ago

New Estonian ministers fuel sexism, white supremacy concerns

New interior minister calls president an "emotionally heated woman" after he and his son use hand signal co-opted by racists

2H ago

Rich brothers recruited via Facebook to fund Sri Lanka attacks, cops say

"We suspect the two brothers used their money from the spice business to finance the bombings," and then blew themselves up, police investigator says

3H ago

Chewbacca actor Peter Mayhew dies at 74

The actor behind the iconic Chewbacca in the original "Star Wars" trilogy has died

1H ago

New on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon

Shows and movies you'll want to stream in May

Apr 26 36 photos

Pete Davidson runs into his "bae," Hillary Clinton

Davidson famously has Clinton's face tattooed on his leg

1H ago

Newest Miss USA is a lawyer from North Carolina

Big believer in empowering women, the 27-year-old lawyer who represents prison inmates for free now goes on to compete in Miss Universe pageant

2H ago

Blake Lively debuts baby bump

It may have been the premiere of Ryan Reynolds' movie, but Lively — and her bump — stole the show

10H ago

Most e-scooter injuries could be prevented, CDC finds

The CDC recommends wearing a helmet and properly learning to ride an e-scooter before hitting the road

15H ago

Facebook bans Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos over hate speech

"The process for evaluating potential violators is extensive and it is what led us to our decision to remove these accounts today," the company said in a statement

19H ago

Beyond Meat stock more than doubles in first hour of IPO

Vegan meat maker targets Main Street menus with meatless meat that mimics the real dead thing

19H ago

Tesla raises $2.3B after huge first-quarter loss

A week after posting a $700 million loss, the electric car company is moving to raise cash

22H ago

Investors losing appetite for meal-kit pioneer Blue Apron

Company's stock has plunged 89 percent since going public in 2017 amid competition from the likes of Amazon

May 1

Gravity wave detectors spot more black hole mergers

After upgrades, gravitational wave detectors haul in rich bounty of observations

18H ago

SpaceX confirms crew spacecraft destroyed in test mishap

Crew Dragon spacecraft was being prepared for in-flight test of emergency abort system when something went terribly wrong

18H ago

Blue Origin launches rocket with NASA payloads

Company founded by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos aims to send private citizens and scientists into space

May 2

States declare war on Styrofoam — "People think it breaks down"

Maine is the first U.S. state to ban polystyrene food containers, which are hard to recycle and often end up in oceans

May 1

How NASA would keep an asteroid from hitting Earth

While unlikely, scientists are preparing for the worst case scenario

Apr 30

Breast implants tied to rare cancer to remain on market

The FDA says the risks do not warrant a national ban

1H ago

Execs guilty of bribing doctors, marking first conviction in opioids fight

Prosecutors accused them of bribing doctors to prescribe a highly addictive fentanyl spray – called Subsys

4H ago

Most e-scooter injuries could be prevented, CDC finds

The CDC recommends wearing a helmet and properly learning to ride an e-scooter before hitting the road

15H ago

Scientology cruise ship quarantined after measles case

Authorities say the ship is still in port and no one has been allowed to leave after a confirmed case of measles​ aboard

16H ago

Beyond Meat stock more than doubles in first hour of IPO

Vegan meat maker targets Main Street menus with meatless meat that mimics the real dead thing

19H ago

Pepsi ends suit against Indian farmers over potato used in Lay's

After discussions with government, food giant says it is ending case against small farmers over right to use spud

1H ago

Labor market still humming, as employers add 263,000 jobs

Government's latest employment report tops forecasts, although more people exited the work force in April

1H ago

Is this record-setting stock market setting up investors for a fall?

If you're worried that stock prices can't get much higher, you might want to review this list of market indicators

Apr 30

Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world is about to get even richer

Amazon founder's stake in Uber could be worth $400 million when the ride-hailing company goes public next week

1H ago

The rise of female gun ownership and fashionable "carrywear"

Alexo Athletica designed a pair of Lulelemon-like leggings with pockets for guns — and women gun owners took notice

Apr 26

Alleged murderer of Ashton Kutcher's friend used "blitz-type knife attacks"

Michael Gargiulo is accused of murdering 3 women, including 22-year-old Ashley Ellerin, who was friends with Hollywood actor Ashton Kutcher

2H ago

Georgia executes man who killed ex-girlfriend, 2nd woman in 1994

Ex's 5-year-old son saw Scotty Morrow shoot boy's mother to death; lawyers said Morrow was repeatedly raped, beaten when he was young

6H ago

Man who pleaded guilty to foiled bomb plot likely to go free

Federal sentencing guidlines had called for Najibullah Zazi​ to be sentenced to life in prison, but prosecutors on Wednesday credited Zazi for his "extraordinary" assistance to authorities

15H ago

Man who plotted bombing sentenced

A man who was arrested nearly a decade ago for planning to bomb New York City subways was sentenced to 10 years in prison, time already served. He will soon be released into the witness protection system.

updated 57M ago 00:19

Rapper Offset accused of damaging a fan's iPhone

The rapper, whose real name is Kiari Cephus, faces a second-degree charge of criminal damage to property

14H ago

SpaceX confirms crew spacecraft destroyed in test mishap

Crew Dragon spacecraft was being prepared for in-flight test of emergency abort system when something went terribly wrong

18H ago

Blue Origin launches rocket with NASA payloads

Company founded by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos aims to send private citizens and scientists into space

May 2

SpaceX launch delayed by space station glitch

Faulty electronics box on the space station will be replaced using the lab's robot arm

Apr 30

NASA troubleshoots space station power glitch

Upcoming SpaceX cargo launch could be delayed if space station power glitch isn't quickly resolved

Apr 29

NASA just detected the first "marsquake"

For the first time since its mission began, NASA's InSight lander has detected what scientists believe to be a marsquake

Apr 23

Worst movie sequels since 2000, ranked

These are the lowest-rated sequels this century, according to Metacritic's rankings

Apr 30 51 photos

Private secrets shared via postcard

Since 2004, hundreds of thousands of anonymous contributors with something to get off their chest have sent postcards to the website PostSecret.com

Apr 28 32 photos

Met Gala 2019: Craziest looks of all time

The bigger the tiara – or pope hat – the better! (Just ask Rihanna, Katy Perry or Sarah Jessica Parker… )

Apr 26 47 photos

New on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon

Shows and movies you'll want to stream soon

Apr 26 36 photos

Jason Corbett murder: A look at the evidence

In August 2015, former FBI agent Tom Martens and his daughter Molly Corbett admitted killing her Irish-born husband Jason Corbett, insisting they beat him in self-defense with a brick paver and a baseball bat because Jason was choking Molly and threatening to kill her

Apr 20 11 photos

Popular

Instagram tests hiding "like" counts

Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, will be testing a new feature to hide the number of "likes" users get on a post, in an effort to make the platform less competitive. Taylor Lorenz, a staff writer for The Atlantic, joined CBSN to break down what this means for influencers, teens, and extremist accounts.

updated 18M ago 03:47

Critics accuse Barr of protecting Trump

Tensions between the White House and House Democrats are escalating over Attorney General William Barr's handling of the Mueller report. Washington Post reporter Matt Zapotosky joins CBSN to explain why Barr is such a staunch defender of President Trump and the executive branch of government.

updated 18M ago 08:19

Transgender women win asylum cases

Ten transgender women who traveled through Central America to the U.S. won their asylum cases, ending a months-long journey of violence and discrimination. CBS News Digital reporter Kate Smith joins CBSN to discuss. CBS News Digital reporter Kate Smith joined CBSN to discuss.

updated 25M ago 04:24

Biden and Sanders fight for Trump voters

Former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders are starting out as the front-runners in a crowded Democratic primary field. Despite their policy differences, both are pursuing voters who went for President Trump in 2016. CBSN political reporter Caitlin Huey-Burns joined CBSN to discuss their strategies.

updated 54M ago 05:43

Pikes Hotel a “revolving door of stars”

Brad Pike talks about the famous hotel his father built in Ibiza, Spain, which was a magnet for celebrities.

1H ago 02:28