Labour suffered humiliation in the local elections tonight after the party lost its four remaining county councils to the Tories.
Nottinghamshire was the last to fall as the Conservatives took control gaining nine seats while Labour - which had held the council since 1981 - lost 22.
Earlier Derbyshire fell after 28 years of rule, while Labour was also beaten by the Conservatives in Lancashire and Staffordshire.
Overall, Labour appeared to be heading for total losses of around 300 seats while the Conservatives picked up more than 200.
Labour lost 16 seats in Derbyshire as the Conservatives gained 19 to take an eye-catching victory.
In Lancashire, Labour lost 25 seats as the Tories picked up 18 to turn the red-rose county blue. It is the first time since 1981 that Labour has lost control of that council.
The British National Party also picked up its first English county council seat in Lancashire, with Sharon Wilkinson defeating Labour's Marcus Johnstone in the Padiham and Burnley West ward.
Staffordshire also fell to the Tories as they soared past the 32 seats needed to claim a majority, and were predicting a landslide victory there as Labour and the Liberal Democrats failed to make inroads.
Elsewhere in the country Labour was trounced in the battle for Lincolnshire County Council, losing 17 seats as the Tories gained 15 and increased their strong hold on the authority.
It also failed to gain a single councillor in newly-formed Central Bedfordshire, where the Tories took 54 of the 66 seats up for grabs.
And the party lost eight seats in Bristol as the Liberal Democrats took overall control of the city.
Elections for 34 English councils comprising 2,318 council seats took place yesterday with results slowly coming through today.
There were also three mayoral contests in Doncaster, North Tyneside and Hartlepool.
Tory leader David Cameron told activists in Devon his party was winning seats all over the country as early counting took place.
The Tories picked up Somerset County Council from the Liberal Democrats, gaining 11 seats as the Liberal Democrats lost nine and Labour's representation was halved from four to two.
They also gained control of Devon from the Lib Dems, winning enough seats to claim victory on the county council before all results were declared.
"You can see the Conservative Party strong, united and positive, winning in every part of our country," Mr Cameron said.
Mr Brown said yesterday's elections had been "a painful defeat for Labour".
He told reporters in Downing Street: "I am here to be totally candid, to accept my responsibilities and to set out what I intend to do.
"The elections yesterday were a painful defeat for Labour. Too many good people doing so much good for their communities and their constituencies have lost through no fault of their own."
The chair of the Liberal Democrat local election campaign Andrew Stunell insisted that they had been good results for the party.
"We have held our own against a resurgent Conservative party in the south, making gains in Essex, Surrey and Hertfordshire among others and have taken seats from the Labour party across the country," he said.
"With 28% of the vote, we have convincingly beaten the Labour party into third place, consolidating our position as the second party of local government."