ELECTION experts have said Labour could yet fail to form a majority government – despite their gains in the English local elections.

Michael Thrasher, an associate member of Oxford University’s Nuffield Politics Research Centre and elections analyst for Sky News, said he would conclude from the results of Thursday’s council elections in England that Labour would still fail to get “over the line” – though they were likely to be the largest party at the next UK-wide poll.

He said the election did not show whether votes for the SNP or the Welsh independence party Plaid Cymru would be affected by unpopularity of the Conservatives.

It could mean the SNP would hold the balance of power following the next election if the English swing to Labour was replicated across the UK next autumn.

Thrasher told Sky News: “Critically, in terms of looking at the outcome of a General Election, you would say that Labour are set to become the largest party – but in a hung parliament. So a very good result but not quite getting over the line.”

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He added that Labour’s path to victory meant it needed to win back support in Scotland at the expense of the SNP.

His view was echoed in Professor John Curtice’s assessment of the results. The Strathclyde University polling expert told the BBC on Friday the outcome meant it was still “uncertain” Labour could form a majority government next year.

The SNP have seized on the results, saying they believe they will be the kingmakers following the next General Election.

Stephen Flynn, the SNP’s leader in Westminster, said: “It's increasingly clear that the SNP can hold the balance of power after the next General Election – putting Scotland in prime position to pull the strings of a minority UK government.

"Voting SNP is the best way to beat the Tories in Scotland – and every vote for the SNP will be crucial to ensure Scotland wields real power and influence.

"With the pro-Brexit Labour Party lurching to the right, and becoming indistinguishable from the Tories, the SNP will make certain that real change happens.

"The SNP would ensure the power to determine Scotland’s future is transferred to Edinburgh, that the cost of living crisis becomes the main priority of Westminster and that relations with Europe are rebuilt and renewed.”