Polls have opened for local, regional and mayoral elections in England, Scotland and Wales.
It is the biggest set of votes since the 2019 general election with polls taking place for the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Senedd and 143 councils and 13 mayors in England. It is being dubbed “Super Thursday.”
The vote could have far-reaching implications for the future of the opposition Labour Party and for Scotland’s status in the U.K.
In the Northeastern constituency of Hartlepool, a by-election is taking place following the resignation of the previous Member of Parliament, Mike Hill.
The seat has been held by Labour MPs for almost 60 years but early polls suggest it could be lost to the ruling Conservative party in this election; a move which would deliver a harsh blow to the leader of the Labour Party, Keir Starmer.
In Scotland, the Scottish National Party is likely to push for another referendum on independence if they secure a majority. UK prime minister Boris Johnson has called the move “reckless” and “irresponsible”.
Scottish voters rejected independence in 2014, with the ‘No’ side winning with 55.3% of the vote.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan is also seeking re-election against a backdrop of economic decline in the capital city due to the pandemic and Brexit.
Results are expected to arrive over several days, with coronavirus restrictions slowing the counting process.