A new analysis has found that the Tories are heading for a record all-time low in local elections in London on 3 May.
The number of Conservative councillors in the capital could fall from 604 currently to below 519, according to elections expert Lord (Robert) Hayward (pictured), pollster Andrew Hawkins of ComRes and Professor Tony Travers of the London School of Economics.
The local elections in England will be the biggest test for the parties and their leaders – Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn and Sir Vince Cable – since last year’s general election.
The latest analysis confirmed that in recent elections Labour has performed up to 15% better in London than in Britain as a whole and the Conservatives up to 10% worse in the capital.
“I would be surprised if the Tories did not have an all-time low of councillors in London,” said Lord Hayward, who correctly predicted the 2015 general election result and the outcome of the EU referendum. “Labour were very successful in the general election. I would expect that to continue in 2018 in London.”
On the elections outside London, he added: “I expect the Tories to lose seats overall and the Liberal Democrats to gain seats against the Tories in some parts of the country. But I don’t expect them to lose to such an extent that it would endanger Theresa May’s premiership.”
In total, 4,371 council seats are being contested, with Labour set to make big gains in the 32 London boroughs but the Conservatives poised to do better outside the capital.
Besides the London boroughs, there are elections in so-called unitary authorities such as Portsmouth, Southampton, Derby, Hull and Blackburn and districts in shire counties such as Surrey and Hampshire.
Districts including Harrogate, South Lakeland, Huntingdonshire, Eastleigh and Hastings are electing all their councillors, as are the big cities of Newcastle, Leeds, Manchester and Birmingham.
Mayors are being elected in the London boroughs of Hackney, Lewisham, Newham and Tower Hamlets and in Watford and the Sheffield City region.
Most of the 18% share of the vote won by the almost self-destructed UKIP in the same elections in 2014 is likely to be up for grabs.
Labour will hope to benefit from a Brexit backlash against the Conservatives in London, but elsewhere pro-Brexit voters want the Government to get on with leaving the EU.
The Conservatives could lose Trafford, however, to no overall control and Labour could gain Dudley, Calderdale and Kirklees from no overall control.
The Lib Dems hope for a breakthrough in South Cambridgeshire, close to the heavily pro-Remain university city, and in affluent Three Rivers in Hertfordshire.