Scores of spoiled ballot papers delay local election results

Election results were delayed in parts of England overnight after so many people had deliberately spoilt their ballot papers.

Some voters scribbled ‘Brexit means Brexit’, ‘Get May out and us out of the EU’ or ‘traitors’ on their forms and refused to mark crosses against any candidates’ names.

Each of the spoilt papers had to be individually adjudicated and the number to be examined was higher than normal in Ipswich, Suffolk – delaying the result.

A voter in the South Somerset District Council area spoilt their local election ballot paper

A voter in the South Somerset District Council area spoilt their local election ballot paper

A voter in the South Somerset District Council area spoilt their local election ballot paper

Some people scribbled 'Brexit' and refused to mark crosses against any candidates' names

Some people scribbled 'Brexit' and refused to mark crosses against any candidates' names

Some people scribbled ‘Brexit’ and refused to mark crosses against any candidates’ names

Spoiling a ballot paper is not illegal, and many people took the chance to do so in the elections

Spoiling a ballot paper is not illegal, and many people took the chance to do so in the elections

Spoiling a ballot paper is not illegal, and many people took the chance to do so in the elections

Some ballot papers written on by angry voters said 'none of these' and 'deliver Brexit'

Some ballot papers written on by angry voters said 'none of these' and 'deliver Brexit'

Some ballot papers written on by angry voters said ‘none of these’ and ‘deliver Brexit’

Some voters wrote the words ‘Brexit Party’ over their papers in support of Nigel Farage’s new political group, despite it not fielding candidates in the local elections.

An official in Ipswich’s Corn Exchange said: ‘We thought there would be quite a few spoilt papers, but nothing on the level we have seen – it took everyone by surprise. There seems to be a lot of anger and frustration out there.’ 

Spoiling a ballot paper is not illegal, although there are legal restrictions on photographing in polling stations under the Representation of the People Act. 

The result itself in the town was not so much of a surprise, with Labour increasing its majority by three and retaining its grip on Ipswich Borough Council.

The Tories lost three seats, with Labour gaining two and the Liberal Democrats one. Labour now holds 36 of 48 seats with the Tories on nine and the Lib Dems on three.  

Voters vented their anger at the two main parties over the Brexit deadlock as both the Tories and Labour suffered losses in the English council elections overnight.

A voter in the Gateshead Council elections wrote in the candidate boxes: 'Brexit betrayal!'

A voter in the Gateshead Council elections wrote in the candidate boxes: 'Brexit betrayal!'

A voter in the Gateshead Council elections wrote in the candidate boxes: ‘Brexit betrayal!’

Some voters wrote the words 'Brexit Party' in support of Nigel Farage's new political group

Some voters wrote the words 'Brexit Party' in support of Nigel Farage's new political group

Some voters wrote the words ‘Brexit Party’ in support of Nigel Farage’s new political group

The election count at Ipswich's Corn Exchange in Suffolk was delayed due to the spoilt ballots

The election count at Ipswich's Corn Exchange in Suffolk was delayed due to the spoilt ballots

The election count at Ipswich’s Corn Exchange in Suffolk was delayed due to the spoilt ballots

The Conservatives shed 409 seats and 16 councils in early results, with voters apparently frustrated at the Government’s failure to deliver Brexit on March 29.

The result in Ipswich 

Council control: Labour (no change)

Seats: Labour 11, Conservative 4, Liberal Democrats 1

Change: Labour gain 2 seats, Liberal Democrats gain 1, Conservatives lose 3

New council make up: Labour 36, Conservatives 9, Liberal Democrats 3

There were calls from Tory MPs for Theresa May’s removal as leader, with senior Brexiteer Sir Bernard Jenkin warning that the party would be ‘toast’ unless it ‘mends its ways pretty quickly’.

But Labour 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.

In contrast, the Liberal Democrats were enjoying a good night, with some predictions that they could pick up as many as 500 seats.

With results in from 109 of the 248 councils where elections are being held, the Conservatives had lost 409 seats and Labour 60, while the Lib Dems had gained 283.

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