The local election results are dire for both the Tories and Labour. The Tories have lost over a thousand seats—and that is with the Brexit Party not standing in these elections. If Nigel Farage’s new party had been on the ballot paper, who knows how bad the Tory loses would have been. But at the same time, Labour—after nine years in opposition and coming from the low base of 2015—are going backwards. They have, so far, lost council seats.
The two main parties are, in national projected vote share, tied on 28 per cent of the vote. This is a reminder of just how much of an ugly baby contest British politics is right now.
Both Labour and the Tories appear to be relying on the other’s failings to win the next election. But there is an opportunity for the next Tory leader in this situation. However much the Tories have lost the voters’ trust on Brexit, Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour is far from sealing the deal. This is the crucial difference between now and the 1990s when Tony Blair’s Labour was frequently hitting 50 per cent in the polls.
The upshot of this is that if the Tories can get Brexit done and have a new leader who passes muster on this issue, they—remarkably considering the missteps of the last few years—still have a chance at the next election. But as I say in this week’s magazine if they go into that contest without having delivered Brexit, then they are risking a set of results that would be far, far worse than today’s pretty awful numbers.