Wales politics

General Election: 'Two party race helps Conservatives'

Jonathan Evans
Image caption Jonathan Evans says a poll seen as being between Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May is helpful

Welsh Conservatives will benefit from a general election seen as a two party contest, a senior Tory has said.

Despite returning 80 more councillors, 184 in total, at Thursday's local elections in Wales, the party only took control of Monmouthshire.

Welsh Tory chairman Jonathan Evans said June's poll will be regarded as a Theresa May-Jeremy Corbyn battle.

Welsh Labour's Chris Evans said the local election results gave the party a "firm foundation" to build on.

Although Labour lost more than 100 councillors in Wales, taking its tally down to 472, and lost control of both Bridgend and Blaenau Gwent councils, the results were not as bad for the party as had been predicted.

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Media captionBethan Lewis asks if the council results will have any bearing on the battle for Westminster

Labour was also three seats short of a majority in Merthyr Tydfil, but polling has been delayed until next month in the Cyfarthfa ward following the death of a candidate.

It means a five-week wait before the council's final political makeup is clear.

The ward elected two independents and one Labour councillor in 2012.

Ex-MP and general election candidate in June Chris Evans said: "What's quite clear is Labour in Wales is much stronger than the polls are telling us at the moment.

"People haven't deserted the Labour Party - people still have faith and they're still strong with the Labour Party and that is what we will build on in the next four weeks."

Jonathan Evans, who is running the Conservative general election campaign in Wales, told the BBC's Sunday Politics Wales programme there had been a range of alternatives to Labour in Welsh elections.

But he said: "In the general election it's my expectation that people will see this as a two party contest.

"The election has been presented as a choice between Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May.

"I see it that way, and the public see it that way as well and I think that is going to be very helpful for the Conservative Party in these elections."

Plaid Cymru said gaining more than 30 councillors, meaning the party now has 202, was "great news".

It said voting patterns in some local election areas were a cause for optimism ahead of the general election.

Ynys Mon AM Rhun ap Iorwerth said it was "pleasing" to see gains "in places where we aren't seen as traditionally strong".

"Looking across the board it's got to be seen I think as a pretty solid result for Plaid Cymru and bodes well for the poll which is coming up in just a few weeks' time."

The Liberal Democrats lost 11 council seats and now have 62 councillors in Wales in what Lib Dem AM and Welsh Government Education Secretary Kirsty Williams called "a mixed set of results".

But she said local election voting should not be seen as a prediction of what will happen on 8 June.

"I think we have to be very careful not to make a direct read across from local government elections to the general election," she said.

"What's absolutely clear is that politics is in a state of flux and there are arguments to be made on doorsteps in the weeks to come."

UKIP AM Gareth Bennett said his party still had a key role despite failing to win any councillors in Wales and losing 145 in England.

"UKIP should have a future because there are so many issues which will be unresolved in British politics which the main parties won't tackle," he said.

"Who the heck is going to tackle these if not UKIP?"

Sunday Politics Wales, BBC One Wales, 11:00 BST, 7 May

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