Jeremy Corbyn says winning the General Election will be a historic challenge

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Theresa May's Conservatives celebrated major gains in councils across England and Wales yesterday, snatching voters from Ukip and setting the stage for a crushing Labour defeat in next month's general election.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn described the local election results, which marked massive losses for the party of 320 seats, as "mixed", and insisted his party was "closing the gap" on the Conservatives.

He acknowledged, however, that Labour had lost "too many" councillors and now faced a mammoth job if he was to gain the keys of No 10.

British Prime Minister Theresa May s Conservatives secured big wins Friday in local elections, a month ahead of a Brexit-dominated snap general election.

Speaking in Ellon as he launched his campaign to be re-elected on June 8, Mr Salmond stated: " I said the Tory support was on the rise, it should be said in Gordon constituency we got more councillors in than the Tories, we got 11 councillors to their nine and six for the Liberal Democrats". "We knew it was going to be a hard night".

"The reality is that today, despite the evident will of the British people, we have bureaucrats in Europe who are questioning our resolve to get the right deal".

Ukip's Lisa Duffy tried to soften the extent of the damage: "I won't use the word "disaster", I'll use the word "challenging", she told the BBC.

A footnote to these results was the demise of the UK Independence Party (UKIP), which lost 145 of the 146 council seats it was defending last week.

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The results sparked a furious reaction from the party's former donor Arron Banks, who said Ukip was "finished as an electoral force" under its current leadership and needed "a strategic bullet to the back of the head".

Just how incredibly "unconnected" Labour has become from its supposedly core support became clear when it not only lost its Welsh heartland council of Blaenau Gwent to independents, but was even beaten by the Tories in two of Scotland's most deprived wards, Glasgow Shettleston and Ferguslie Park in Paisley.

In Scotland, which since the late 1990s has largely shunned the governing party, early results showed the Conservatives gaining to the detriment of both Labour and, to a lesser extent, the Scottish National Party, which still looked likely to win the lion's share of votes overall.

If the results in England, Scotland and Wales can be taken as a barometer of the likely outcome of the June 8 poll then it seems the Conservatives are on course for a decisive victory. It means that in this seat, as in many others, it is a two-horse race between us and the Nationalists.

A forecast return of voters to the Liberal Democrats failed to materialize, with the party seeing a net loss of 38 seats. As long as Jeremy Corbyn is in power, they say, Labour will not be receiving their vote, as the Chippenham native just does not "speak for them".

UKIP's vote was "bleeding off to the Conservatives", while the Lib Dem failure to capture Remain voters was a "big surprise" and a "disappointment" for the centrist party.

We'll have to wait and see whether the public will embrace Mr Corbyn in the coming weeks, but there is evidence that the Labour leader is now much less popular than Theresa May or indeed his own party.

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