In the biggest test of voter opinion before the next general election, Tony Blair's Labor party suffered heavy losses in local elections Thursday. Government ministers acknowledged that war in Iraq played a role.
He's clearly not happy with the results
British Prime Minister Tony Blair's party lost more than 200 seats on local councils, according to BBC. While final results have not been announced, Labor is expected to come in third, behind opposition Conservatives and the third party Liberal Democrats.
Speaking at the G-8 summit in the U.S. state of Georgia, Blair said the British role in Iraq had cast a shadow over the elections. "But in the end you have to take decisions that are right and you have to see them through," he told reporters.
The Conservatives were unable to make huge gains as they also supported the war in Iraq. Only the Liberal Democrats, who opposed a British involvement, made strides at the ballots.
Results unlikely to threaten Blair's re-election
While experts said that the elections were unlikely to threaten Blair's re-election in the upcoming general election, which is expected to take place next year, government officials also tried to play down the significance of the results.
"We always knew this was going to be a very difficult election for us," Nick Raynford, the cabinet minister in charge of local government issues, told Sky television. "Governments in mid-term tend to lose."
Results in elections for London's mayor were expected to be announced later on Friday. Incumbent Ken Livingstone was expected to win re-election.
British voters also cast their ballots in the European Parliament elections on Thursday, but those results are not expected to be announced until Sunday after all other 25 EU countries have voted as well.
The anti-EU UK Independence Party, which has called for Britain's withdrawal from the EU, is expected to fare well in those elections and could quadruple its seats to 12.