The Conservatives and Labour have both faced a backlash at the ballot box over Brexit while smaller parties and independents have surged ahead.
– Who are the winners?
After results from all of the 248 councils where elections were held, the Lib Dems had gained 676 seats and the Greens 185.
There were nearly 300 more independent councillors.
The Lib Dems took four councils from the Tories: Winchester, Cotswold, Bath and North East Somerset, and Hinckley and Bosworth, while North Kesteven went to independents.
Another point of satisfaction for the party came from the fact leading Brexiteer MP Jacob Rees-Mogg now has a Liberal Democrat councillor representing him in Somerset.
– And the losers?
The Conservatives had lost 534 seats with Labour dropping 59, while Ukip lost 13.
While the Tories took two councils – Walsall and North East Lincolnshire from no overall control – they lost Peterborough, Basildon, Southend, Worcester, St Albans, Welwyn Hatfield, Folkestone and Hythe, and Tandridge to no overall control.
Labour was hoping to take Swindon from the Tories, but didn’t manage to.
Mrs May addressed the Welsh Tory conference after the early results but a heckler in the audience shouted: “Why don’t you resign… We don’t want you.”
The Prime Minister then drew laughter and applause from a majority of the hall as she told the conference: “It’s great to be back in North Wales again – I have to say my experience of North Wales is that everybody I meet here is friendly.”
– What are the Tories saying?
Prime Minister Theresa May said the local elections were “very difficult for our party”.
“Results are still coming in, but the picture is clear,” she said. “Councillors who’ve given years of hard work in their local communities have lost through no fault of their own.
“We have the privilege of governing our country at a momentous time and we have a responsibility of delivering something truly historic. What is momentous and historic is seldom simple and straightforward. But I think there was a simple message from yesterday’s elections to both us and the Labour Party – just get on and deliver Brexit.”
Brexit-backing Conservative MP Sir Bernard Jenkin said: “If the Conservative Party doesn’t mend its ways pretty quickly, the Conservative Party is going to be toast.
“It is quite obvious that the Conservative Party has got to deliver Brexit – and a Brexit that really is Brexit.”
– And Labour?
Jeremy Corbyn’s party also struggled, losing seats at a point in the electoral cycle when they could expect to be making significant gains at the expense of the Government.
On a visit to Trafford, a former Tory stronghold where Labour won over-control of the council, said: “Results across the country are interesting, to put it mildly.
“But I also say the swings to Labour in many parts of the country show that we can win seats in a general election, whenever that comes.”
Labour lost control in Bolsover for the first time ever, in Hartlepool and in Wirral, although it did gain Trafford from no overall control.
The party’s national elections co-ordinator Andrew Gwynne accepted it had been “a difficult set of elections” for the party.
“Undoubtedly, Brexit played a part in the results. It was the first opportunity people have had to vote and there’s been that sense of frustration,” he told Radio 4’s Today programme.
Labour MP Jess Phillips reacted by saying her party’s position on Brexit had “failed”.
Fellow Labour MP Wes Streeting said losses in Sunderland and Liverpool demonstrated that “looking both ways on Brexit isn’t doing Labour any good”.
– The Lib Dems are happy
As well as picking up councils from the Tories, the Lib Dems, who fought on a pro-Remain platform, took North Norfolk and North Devon from no overall control.
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable said his party were “the big winners of this year’s elections, with already our best result for over 15 years and more gains expected today”.
Sir Vince said: “Voters have sent a clear message that they no longer have confidence in the Conservatives, but they are also refusing to reward Labour while the party prevaricates on the big issue of the day: Brexit.”
Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Sir Edward Davey said the party’s results were “equivalent to our best strides forward ever in our history”, comparable to surges following the Iraq War and during the meltdown of John Major’s administration.
– So are the Greens
Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley said: “This is the biggest election night in our history. Greens are winning right across the country, and taking seats from a wide range of other parties.
“Voters see that we need a new kind of politics, one that recognises the huge imperative of acting on climate change, but also the social emergency that is creating misery and suffering in communities across the country.”
– And the other parties?
Change UK MP Anna Soubry, formerly a Conservative, has said the local election results tell the two main parties “plague on both your houses”.
The recently formed party had not stood candidates in the local elections, but will be running in the EU elections later this month if they go ahead.
The Brexit Party also skipped these elections, but Ben Habib, Brexit Party MEP candidate for London, said: “We believe the vote to leave the EU and these elections are closely linked, and we are not surprised that Labour and the Tories appear to have been punished at the polls because Theresa May, her Government and the House of Commons have botched Brexit.”
Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson told Sky News: “I think the message is pretty clear. It seems to be a plague on both your houses to the Conservatives and the Labour Party, who they see as a block on finding some sort of resolution to Brexit.
“So, we know that the talks are ongoing; hopefully, this will focus minds in the room and, hopefully, we can get past the impasse that we are in and move on to the next stage.”
After John McDonnell tweeted that the message from the electorate was to “sort” Brexit, Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: “If the message Labour takes from English local elections is that they should now be the facilitator of a Tory Brexit, I suspect their troubles will just be beginning.”