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Labour suffer losses but Tories fail to make inroads

Credit: PA Images

Labour has suffered bruising losses in Wales, but the Conservatives failed to make as many gains as expected.

First Minister and Welsh Labour leader Carwyn Jones saw his party lose control of Bridgend, the area he represents in the Assembly, after losing 10 seats.

The party was also dealt a severe blow in the south Wales valleys, with independents taking control of Blaenau Gwent. And in Merthyr Tydfil, the Labour council leader was defeated.

Labour fared better in other areas - retaining overall control of Cardiff, Swansea, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Newport and Neath Port Talbot councils and winning the same number of seats as it held previously on both Wrexham and Flintshire councils, both of which remained under no overall control.

All the nation's 22 councils have been subject to the poll, and three are still to declare.

One political expert said Labour had shown "resilience" in Wales, but it would be different for the General Election when it was Theresa May v Jeremy Corbyn.

Credit: PA Images / Welsh Labour

Welsh Labour candidates and activists can be incredibly proud of themselves today - they fought another tough election, and once again defied the odds.

The Tories had been briefing that they'd be walking into power right across Wales this morning - that simply has not happened.

People realise that only Welsh Labour will stand up for Wales and we thank them once again for that trust.

We must now re-focus and fight a General Election campaign the same way we always fight elections - with our own Welsh Labour values, huge amounts of hard work and an absolute commitment to stand up for our communities against the Tories.

– Carwyn Jones, Leader of Welsh Labour
Credit: PA Images / Welsh Conservatives

Elsewhere, the Conservatives gained control of Monmouthshire from no overall control and overtook Labour in Denbighshire to become the largest party, with the council remaining hung.

The Conservatives are also the largest party in the Vale of Glamorgan.

Ceredigion remains under no overall control, with Plaid Cymru retaining its position as the largest party. In Gwynedd, Plaid Cymru held power.

Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies said: "We are incredibly proud of the big advances we've made so far - it's been a good night at the office.

We've gained overall control of Monmouth, made huge strides in the Vale of Glamorgan, doubled our representation in Wrexham, and reached double digits right in the backyard of the First Minister.

The result shows that people are moving away from Labour and rejecting their tired and out-of-touch message.

We are emboldened by the results that have come in, but take nothing for granted.

There is also still a General Election to fight, and we now need to dig deep and press on with the job of ensuring that we have a Prime Minister on June 8 who can deliver the strong and stable leadership needed to carry our country through Brexit and beyond.

– Andrew RT Davies, Leader of the Welsh Conservatives
Credit: PA Images / Plaid Cymru

Plaid leader Leanne Wood said: "We have broken new ground in all parts of Wales, from Aberavon to Blaenau Gwent and from Bridgend to Wrexham - the results are all looking positive for Plaid Cymru.

People have recognised that, despite facing some of the biggest cuts to our budgets, Plaid Cymru councils have consistently outperformed other councils across Wales and the UK.

The story of the night seems to be Plaid and Tory gains versus Labour and Ukip losses.

– Leanne Wood, Leader of Plaid Cymru
Credit: PA Images

Welsh election expert Professor Roger Scully said there had been a "much smaller" swing from Labour to Conservative in Wales than in England.

He said: "Labour's worst losses in Wales have been to independents in Wrexham, Merthyr and Blaenau Gwent.

"But Labour held up well in Newport, Cardiff and Swansea."

Prof Scully, of the University of Cardiff, said Labour had shown more "resilience" in Wales than in England.

"But that won't save them in the General Election when it is May v Corbyn," he said.

"The Conservatives have done okay, but the prospects are even better for them in a May v Corbyn General Election."

Last month, an opinion poll suggested Labour would lose 10 seats to the Conservatives in Wales, with Mrs May's party holding a 10% lead.

Prof Scully said it was "hard to believe" the Lib Dems had done even worse than last time, and with Ukip winning just one seat in Lancashire, the party was "almost totally irrelevant".

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