But it did win back Plymouth and became the largest party in Trafford. With nearly all results declared, May had avoided the widespread losses that would have weakened her authority over Conservative lawmakers ahead of tests of her plans to take Britain out of the EU customs union as it quits the bloc.
Following the wipe-out of Ukip on the local councils, it was the Conservative Party who won the support among Leave voters.
"I think some of the predictions about the outcome (have been) a bit wild, but we will be campaigning across the country, as we have been, to return more Labour councillors and have more Labour councils to protect people from the impact of Tory (Conservative) austerity", a Labour spokesman said.
On Friday night Tower Hamlets became the last council to declare, with Labour the victor. Sir Vince said the Lib Dems were "very much on the way back".
The makeup of 150 local government authorities, responsible for the day-to-day provision of public services, was at stake. They do not affect seats in parliament, where May has only a slim working majority thanks to a deal with a smaller party.
Despite retaining overall control, the Conservatives lost individual seats in Westminster and Wandsworth.
Redbridge's Conservative group are set to appoint a new leader after losing half of their seats to Labour in May 3's local elections. May is also negotiating an exit from the European Union that 60 percent of the capital rejected at the 2016 Brexit referendum.More news: Apple stock price hits new high after Warren Buffett reveals bigger stake
Labour gained control in Tower Hamlets from no overall control - and even though it was Labour's only gain in the capital, the party claimed the results amounted to the party's best showing in London since 1971. Corbyn has endured fierce criticism over the handling of anti-Semitism within his party.
But in recent weeks May's ratings have been boosted by her handling of national and worldwide crises such as her decision to take military action in Syria and a row with Moscow over the poisoning of a former Russian spy in southern England.
The near-total collapse of Ukip boosted the Conservatives outside London and other big cities, especially in parts of England which voted heavily for Brexit in the 2016 election.
UKIP has suffered leadership issues and struggled for a new objective since achieving its primary political aim at the 2016 Brexit referendum when Britons made a decision to leave the EU.
The Conservatives held on to "crown jewel" authorities in London including Wandsworth, Westminster and Kensington, as well as the key Labour targets of Barnet and Hillingdon, while picking up votes from Ukip across England.
"How extraordinary that a prime minister goes running to Wandsworth to say: 'Congratulations guys, you've been wonderful, you only lost seven seats to the Labour Party.' I mean that is not a prime minister who sees the pinnacle of her success culminating in a general election victory next time, is it?" added the Scot.
Mrs. May's problems over a withdrawal are coming to a head over her promise to leave Europe's customs union, which guarantees tariff-free trade with Continental Europe. Download The for your device.in English and other languages.