Vince Cable hails 'big success' for Liberal Democrats after major gains in local elections
Vince Cable has hailed the local elections a "big success" for his party as they scoop up hundreds of seats across the country.
The pro-Remain party enjoyed their best local election results since 2004 as support for the Conservatives and Labour crumbled across England.
With over half the seats still to declare, the Liberal Democrat leader said his party were the "big winners" of the night as they seized control of a swathe of councils.
Speaking this morning after his party won control in Leave-voting Chelmsford, he said: "It's not just Chelmsford. We've done massively well across the country and the Lib Dems are the big success story of the night, and it's a combination of things.
"People are very dissatisified with the Conservative government, the Labour party is all over the place on the big issue of the day, but actually it is good local campaingining, committment to good local government and a very very good team, and a recovery of morale from the difficult days of a few years ago."
He added: "We are very clear about the way forward. We want to stop Brexit and we want a People's Vote so people can decide which way we go on the matter."
In a bruising night for both the Conservatives and Labour, Mr Cable's party also won control of eight councils including Northern Devon, North Norfolk, Winchester, and Bath and North East Somerset - the seat of leading Tory Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg.
Bath's ousted Conservative council leader, Tim Warren, told the BBC: "The electorate has spoken tonight. They are very angry. They've been told on the streets they don't trust the Conservatives any more and would not vote for the party because of Brexit."
The results will be a major boost for the party ahead of the European Parliament elections where Brexit is set to dominate when voters go to the polls in less than three week's time.
Liberal Democract MP Ed Davey described the results as a "sea change".
"I think voters have been desperate for a strong alternative to the Conservatives and Labour who have made such a mess of everything in the last few years," he said.
"People have been frustrated with the appalling Tory Government, who have let them down not just on Brexit but with cuts to police and schools, and a split opposition with such poor leadership.
"They have been crying out for a strong alternative. The Liberal Democrats have proven we are that strong alternative to the Tories and Labour."
The pro-Remain Green Party also recieved a boost from the poor results for the two major parties, describing their gains as "suprising".
Co-leader Jonathan Bartley said the over-40 seat boost was "very very reassuring".
"There quite clearly is a Brexit backlash. It's been very disappointing to see Labour's equivocation, not backing a People's Vote, not being a Remain party. With the Greens you know what you are going to get," he added.
"It's a very clear message, we want a People's Vote, we want to remain in the European Parliament and we've got three times as many MEPs as the Liberal Democracts. So we are going to be flying that flag."