Conservatives in UK suffer major setback in local elections

Britain's ruling Conservative Party has suffered a steep loss of seats in local elections, adding to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's leadership woes.

Voters went to the polls across England on Thursday to choose representatives in 230 local councils. More than 8,000 seats were up for grabs.

Vote counting was almost over on Friday. Public broadcaster BBC says the Tories lost more than 1,000 seats.

The BBC says the party took a majority in 33 councils, down from 81 before the polls.

The opposition Labour Party gained control of 71 councils after increasing its number of seats by more than 500.

The Liberal Democrats, the second largest opposition party, added more than 400 seats.

The latest polls were seen as a bellwether for Britain's next general election, which must be held by January 2025, and as an electoral test for Sunak.

The Conservatives' setback suggests voters were frustrated with the increasing cost of living as the country continues to suffer steep inflation.