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  1. ITV Report

Boost for May as Labour suffers in the polls

Theresa May's hopes of a victory in June have been boosted tonight Credit: PA

Theresa May's hopes of a General Election victory on June 8th have been boosted after local contests showed Labour suffering losses and the Ukip vote collapsing.

Labour's election co-ordinator Andrew Gwynne acknowledged there were "challenges" for the party as it struggled in some of its Welsh heartlands and failed to resist Tory advances in England.

Ukip suffered significant reverses, with voters switching to the Tories in a pattern which could provide a major boost to Mrs May as she hopes to strengthen her grip on power next month.

The Liberal Democrats were having a mixed election night, failing to prevent the Tories retaining control in Somerset, but making inroads in other areas.

Labour was dealt a severe blow in the south Wales valleys, with independents taking control of Blaenau Gwent and the result on a knife edge in Merthyr Tydfil - where the final three seats will be declared on June 8 with Labour needing to win them all to retain a majority.

A total of 4,851 seats in 88 councils are up for grabs Credit: ITV News

Things could get worse for Labour when counting begins in Scotland, with experts forecasting heavy losses for Mr Corbyn's party.

As the first results began to trickle in after Thursday's vote, shadow international trade secretary Barry Gardiner said: "It's never good to hear that we are losing seats."

In England, the councils being contested were "historically the Conservatives' strongest areas" and in Wales, Labour would struggle to emulate the success it enjoyed in 2012 when the party dominated the results, he said.

Mr Gardiner said he would be "desperately disappointed" if Labour lost control of Merthyr, telling BBC Radio 4 it would be a "huge loss to us".

But 2012 was a "high-water mark" for Labour in Wales and "we were not expecting this to be as good as it was back then".

Mr Gwynne told Sky News the results showed a mixed picture in Wales, but he expected a difficult night in Scotland.

He added that the Ukip vote had seemingly collapsed and transferred to the Conservatives, which was where Labour was being squeezed.

"There are challenges for the Labour Party around the country, I'm not going to hide from that," he said.

"But I think the one thing we've really got to look at here is how we now take forward the Labour campaign going into June 8 and the General Election."

Brendan Toomey became the third Merthyr council leader in a row to lose his seat Credit: Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council

Brendan Toomey, who was the leader of Merthyr Tydfil Council, lost his seat in the Labour heartland.

"It's the birthplace of Labour, we are having a very disappointing evening to say the least," he admitted on BBC Radio 4.

"It is quite clear that huge numbers of the public aren't entirely happy, to say the least, with the way the Labour Party is going at the moment."

There was further disappointment for Labour, losing overall control in Bridgend - the stronghold of First Minister and Welsh Labour leader Carwyn Jones.

Mrs May had targeted Bridgend with a campaign visit in an effort to boost the Tory presence in Wales.

But elsewhere in Wales, early results in Cardiff and Swansea appeared to offer some respite for Labour

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