Jeremy Corbyn admitted Labour faces a task on a "historic scale" if it is to regain power in the General Election on June 8 after losing more than 300 councillors on a calamitous day for his party.
We've gained seats in some places, we've held councils that many predicted we wouldn't.
"That is why I'm not taking anything for granted", she said.
In spite of controlling 441 seats in comparison to the Conservatives' 1,900 and Labour's 1,151, leader Tim Farron said his party should replace Labour as the main opposition group.
"We have five weeks to win the general election so we can fundamentally transform Britain", he said.
"I have a message for Theresa May: If you feel the need to go on about what a great leader you are, then show it by debating with me in this election campaign".
The rise continued a trend which has seen her disapproval rating edge up from 27% shortly before she called the snap election.
Corbyn issued a statement acknowledging some of the problems Labor faced: "The results were mixed".
By 5.15pm, the Tories had won 164 new council seats, while Labour lost 112.
Labour also lost control of Glasgow City Council, which it has controlled since 1980, and the SNP is expected to become the biggest party there.
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The Tories have 464 councillors, a net gain of 125, while Labour has 322, a net loss of 65.
In Wales, the Conservatives won more than 70 seats and independent candidates added 10 as Labour lost seats but remained the most dominant party.
The results prompted a furious response from former donor Arron Banks, who said Ukip was "finished as an electoral force" under its current leadership and needed "a strategic bullet to the back of the head".
"And others, unfortunately, have not been elected", Mr Corbyn said on Friday night. Paul Nuttall's Ukip was crushed as every single councilor facing election suffered defeat.
Winning a landslide is likely to come about as a result of a big double digit lead over Labour, but the party fell somewhat short of that target in these elections at least.
The anti-EU party has struggled to find a footing and has been facing an existential crisis since the referendum previous year in favour of Brexit.
Ian Lavery, Labour's national campaigns co-ordinator, said he was not sure why Mr Burnham had not been there but he wanted to "dispel this myth that there is a rift between Jeremy Corbyn and Andy Burnham". Speaking after a visit to a factory in Brentford, west London, where the Tories are hoping to overturn a Labor majority of just 465, the prime minister said: "The reality is that, despite the evident will of the British people, we have bureaucrats in Europe who are questioning our resolve to get the right deal".
The Scottish National Party (SNP), which campaigned for remaining in the European Union and is committed to independence from the United Kingdom, took a majority of votes north of the English border to remain the biggest party in the council elections with a total of 431 seats.
The SNP remains the largest party in local government with 431 councillors voted in, up slightly from its total of 425 in 2012.