Around 250 councils held crucial local elections just as the country is consumed by chaos over Brexit.
Traditionally local elections do not always reflect national issues so well – so it will be hard to draw a single pattern or story from the results.
But with the Tories defending more than half the 8,400 seats up for grabs, and a huge revolt in the Conservative grassroots over Brexit, a big story will be whether blue votes slip away.
So are you, like us, sticking the kettle on and munching on hobnobs for a rough night of result-watching?
Hooray! Look no further – here are the rough times you can expect each area’s result – with all the usual warnings that they could change dramatically.
How do I watch the results?
We are covering the results right here at mirror.co.uk/politics from 10pm on Thursday 2 May right through to Friday evening.
The latest state of the parties is below:
Who’s voting and what for?
Councillor elections are being held in 248 town, city, borough and county halls – occupying most of England outside London and Birmingham.
Polls opened at 7am on Thursday 2 May and were due to close at 10pm.
Some councils only have a third of seats up for grabs while some are putting up every single seat.
In total 47 unitary councils, 33 metropolitan boroughs and 168 non-metropolitan districts are taking part.
There are also elections for six directly-elected mayors – in Bedford, Copeland, Leicester, Mansfield, Middlesbrough and North of Tyne.
Which party will ‘win’?
The Tories will technically win – get the most seats – because they currently hold more than half the 8,425 council seats up for grabs.
That’s because this year’s elections are focused on more rural areas that are Tory strongholds.
But that huge total also means the Tories have the most to lose from low turnout and voters frustrated by Brexit .
And matters could be made worse by the fact that the last elections of this kind were in 2015 – a high point for the Tories when they unexpectedly won the general election on the same day.
Tory peer and pollster Robert Hayward has predicted the Tories could lose 800 seats while the Lib Dems pick up 500 and Labour claw back 300.
More than half the councils up for grabs (134) are Tory-controlled, according to the Local Government Information Unit.
Labour is defending just 2,069 seats while Lib Dems hold 641, Independents hold 398 and 529 seats belong to smaller parties or community groups, according to Tory peer Robert Hayward (other figures differ).
Labour controls 67 councils, while seven are in Lib Dem hands and 35 are under no overall control. Five are new councils.
What are the areas to look out for?
Swindon (1am) will be one of the first results and a big one to watch for Labour. If Labour do well the Tories could lose their overall control.
Ashfield (5am) was Labour until a slew of defections last year to Independents and Tories. Will it tip back?
Thanet (3pm) was once UKIP’s stronghold and ‘Independent and UKIP’ are the second-largest grouping. Tories hold the administration and should gain if Brexit’s going well. Or the vote could go to anti-establishment parties.
Lib Dems are tipped to make gains in Bath and North East Somerset (5am) and Wokingham (3am) – home to hard Brexiteer Tory MPs Jacob Rees-Mogg and John Redwood.
Labour need a small change to seize control of Trafford (3am), which the Tories lost as their jewel in red Manchester, and Calderdale (2pm) which Labour hope to control for the first time since 1999. But Tories are standing candidates in every seat in every metropolitan authority, so they’ll put up a fight.
It’s a tougher battle in neck-and-neck red-blue battlegrounds Crawley (3pm), Carlisle (5pm) and Brighton (5pm).
Dudley (3am) has a minority Labour administration but only on a knife-edge, and a small change could tip it back to the Tories. Walsall (2am) and Stoke-on-Trent (6am) are on a knife-edge the other way round, with only a small change needed for Labour to come out on top.
Labour also only need a small boost in Derby (3am) to gain control from an unusual pairing of Tories, Lib Dems and UKIP, But Labour had big losses last year and it’s one of 10 councils where UKIP are putting up a full slate of candidates.
Labour only needs a little gain in Redcar and Cleveland (1pm) to get overall control.
And the Tories need just one extra seat to gain control in Scarborough (2pm) and Teignbridge (5pm) – or two in Thurrock (2am).
Any signs of an anti-Brexit effect could come in Stockport (2am), a minority Labour council with a big Lib Dem contingent.
And Tories appear worried about Theresa May’s image in Cheshire East (9pm) and Wirral (2am), where you can find some standing under a ‘local Conservatives’ ticket.
Maidstone (3pm) is a Lib Dem-Tory battleground, with the yellows in power but the blues needing four gains to seize control. So is Winchester (5am), where the Lib Dems are just one seat behind the Tories, and North Norfolk (noon) and Portsmouth (3am).
Some councils are narrowly held so could be thrown into no overall control with just a slight change. They include Cannock Chase (2pm) (Lab), Three Rivers (3pm) and South Somerset (4pm) (LD) and Mole Valley (3pm), Tandridge (2am), Pendle (1pm) and Woking (4pm) (Con).
And the Tories could lose overall control in Hertfordshire (1am) or Peterborough (2am) if they’re having a bad night.
Meanwhile some rock-solid councils will be worth watching. Tories are defending 14 of 15 seats in Amber Valley (2pm), so this will be target practice for rivals.
The Greens are hopeful in Stratford-upon-Avon (2pm) where they’re putting up a full slate of candidates.
Leeds (4am) has 16 different political groups standing – the most of any area. But not everyone has to fight for survival. 15 seats are unopposed or guaranteed in Fenland (1pm).
Top ‘target councils’ to change control
Labour target councils
Stoke on Trent
Tory target councils
Chester West & Cheshire
Target councils for both parties
How do I follow the results live?
We will cover the results right here at mirror.co.uk/politics.
Around half of councils’ results are being counted overnight, with results expected from midnight.
The other half will start being counted on Friday morning so results can be expected to pour in after lunch.
Results by the hour
WARNING: Times are best estimates dependent on a huge variety of factors and could be out by several hours.
We’ve written this with thanks to the Local Government Information Unit and Press Association among many other sources. If a mistake has crept in please alert us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
10pm, Thursday 2 May
Put the kettle on. Polls close at 10pm and it’s going to be a long night.
- St Helens
1am, Friday 3 May
- Castle Point
- East Hertfordshire
- North Tyneside
- South Tyneside
- East Devon
- North East Lincolnshire
- North Warwickshire
We also get our first mayoral declarations of the night – the Copeland mayor and Middlesbrough mayor.
- Bracknell Forest
- Epping Forest
- North Kesteven
- North West Leicestershire
- South Lakeland
- St Albans
- Telford & Wrekin
- Vale of White Horse
- Welwyn Hatfield
- East Lindsey
- Folkestone & Hythe
- North Devon
- North Norfolk
- South Holland
- Windsor & Maidenhead Royal
- Bath & North East Somerset
- Derbyshire Dales
- Hinckley & Bosworth
- South Gloucestershire
- South Kesteven
- Test Valley
- West Lindsey
- East Staffordshire
- North Lincolnshire
- Somerset West & Taunton
- South Oxfordshire
Midday, Friday 3 May
- South Hams
- South Norfolk
- Malvern Hills
- Wyre Forest
We’ll also get the North of Tyne elected mayor.
- Milton Keynes
- Redcar & Cleveland
- Surrey Heath
- West Oxfordshire
- West Suffolk
The Mansfield elected mayor will also be announced.
- Amber Valley
- Cannock Chase
- Central Bedfordshire
- East Suffolk
- Great Yarmouth
- New Forest
- Tunbridge Wells
- West Devon
- West Lancashire
The Leicester elected mayor will be announced.
- East Hampshire
- East Riding of Yorkshire
- King’s Lynn & West Norfolk
- Mole Valley
- North East Derbyshire
- North Hertfordshire
- North Somerset
- Oadby & Wigston
- Ribble Valley
- South Staffordshire
- Three Rivers
- Tonbridge & Malling
- West Berkshire
We also get our final of six mayoral elections, the Bedford elected mayor.
- Basingstoke & Deane
- East Cambridgeshire
- Epsom & Ewell
- Forest of Dean
- Mid Devon
- Mid Suffolk
- Mid Sussex
- South Derbyshire
- South Somerset
- Staffordshire Moorlands
- Brighton & Hove
- High Peak
- Reigate & Banstead
- South Ribble
- Cheshire West & Chester