May 4, 2018 / 2:19 AM / 7 months ago

UK PM May's Conservatives up in early local election results, key tests to come

LONDON, May 4 (Reuters) - Early results from local government elections in England painted a mixed picture for Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party, showing some gains in Brexit-supporting areas, although key results in London were yet to be declared.

The elections are viewed as a gauge of public support for May as she faces a possible revolt in parliament over her strategy for leaving the European Union.

A bad overall result could weaken her authority over Conservative lawmakers ahead of key tests of her plans to pull out of the EU customs union.

Votes held on Thursday will decide more than 4,400 council seats, determining the makeup of 150 local government authorities who are responsible for the day-to-day provision of public services.

They do not affect seats in parliament, where May has only a slim working majority thanks to a deal with a smaller party.

The Conservatives regained control of councils in the pro-Brexit regions of Peterborough and Basildon, largely at the expense of the anti-European Union UK Independence Party (UKIP) - which has suffered leadership issues and struggled for a new purpose since achieving its primary aim in the 2016 Brexit vote.

But, partial results showed May’s party were expected to lose control of its flagship council in the Trafford region of the northern city of Manchester. Initial results showed a big swing to the opposition Labour Party there.

The night’s most closely watched results in London’s 32 boroughs had yet to be fully declared, but some initial counts showed the forecast swing to Labour in the capital was materialising, albeit not as strongly as some had expected.

The overall tally due later on Friday will offer the first snapshot of public opinion since an election last year in which the Conservatives suffered unexpected losses, leaving May weakened and her party arguing openly about Brexit.

Some of the key results to watch are listed here: (Reporting by William James Editing by Darren Schuettler)

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