British Prime Minister David Cameron
British Prime Minister David Cameron has said he is "sorry" for all the "hard-working Conservatives" who have lost their seats in the local elections while Labour racks up a series of significant victories across the country.
On a bruising night for the Tories and Liberal Democrats, Labour claimed it was "exceeding expectations" by seizing control of key councils such as Thurrock, Harlow, Southampton and Birmingham, reports Sky News.
The Opposition also took Great Yarmouth, Chorley and Plymouth and a number of councils in Wales.
The Prime Minister suffered the added embarrassment of losing in the backyard of his Commons constituency - with Labour taking Witney Central, Witney East and Chipping Norton.
With around half of votes counted, Labour have won control of 22 councils, with around 470 new seats, the Tories have lost around 300 seats and the Lib Dems around 200, leaving Nick Clegg's party with its lowest number of seats since it was formed.
Cameron said: "I am sorry for all the hard-working Conservative councillors who lost their seats, obviously against a difficult national backdrop.
"These are difficult times and there aren't easy answers.
"What we have to do is take the difficult decisions to deal with the debt, deficit and broken economy that we've inherited and we will go on making those decisions and we've got to do the right thing for our country."
Labour leader, Ed Miliband said his party's successes were a sign that Labour was "winning back trust" and regaining ground lost in the general election.
"I am determined to work tirelessly in the coming years up to the next general election to show we can change this country so it works for you, so it works for your son or daughter who is looking for a job, so it can deal with the squeeze on living standards, and, above all, so Britain changes from a country that works a few people at the top to a country that works for everybody," he said.
"I know that David Cameron promised change and has disappointed people. I am determined that we can deliver Britain the change it needs."
In a further blow to the Tories, several cities ignored pleas from the Prime Minister and used a series of referendums to reject proposals to opt for elected mayors.
Manchester, Nottingham and Coventry voted No, and there are signs that Birmingham and others have also dismissed the plan.
Meanwhile, Labour's Joe Anderson has become Liverpool's first elected mayor.
The councillor, who has until now been leader of Liverpool City Council, won the city's first mayoral elections at the first count with 58,448 votes.
Boris Johnson will hope to restore some Tory pride when the results of the London mayoral contest are announced later Friday.