Theresa May under pressure to quit after local election losses

Tory councillors and MPs call for PM to consider position as Tory party sheds more than 1,300 seats

Theresa May under pressure to quit after local election losses

Conservative councillors have called for Theresa May to step down after the party suffered losses of more than 1,300 seats in local elections dominated by the UKs Brexit stalemate.

After a collapse of the Tory vote across southern England, some MPs urged the party to change its rules so the prime minister can be removed from office as soon as possible.

A former councillor interrupted May as she gave a speech in Wales, saying: Why dont you resign? We dont want you.

With all the results declared on Friday, the party had lost 1,334 councillors from when these seats were last fought in 2015.

It was thought to be the worst Tory local election performance in 24 years. In 1995, under John Major, the party lost more than 2,000 seats. However, one cabinet minister warned that the results would be overshadowed by even bigger losses in the European elections this month.

Among the more surprising results was the partys loss of Cotswolddistrict council after 16 years, with the Liberal Democrats now in charge.

The Conservative group leader, Tony Berry, said it was a very unusual set of circumstances because of Brexit and professional politicians who are basically working for themselves rather than necessarily what is best for the country.

Delivering a message to the prime minister, he said: I would ask her to consider her position very carefully.

In Bath and North East Somerset, where the Lib Dems won control, Tory losses included the council leader, Tim Warren, who said councillors had been given a kicking for something that wasnt our fault.

Asked if there needed to be changes in leadership or policies at the top of the party, Warren replied: There needs to be a change in action.

May was berated by a former county councillor, Stuart Davies, before she admitted that the results from local elections in England had been very difficult for the party.

As she came forward to address an invited audience at the Welsh Conservative conference in Llangollen, Davies stood up and shouted: Why dont you resign? We dont want you.

The Tories also lost Chelmsford, where the Lib Dems overturned a 45-seat majority, and Somerset West and Taunton, where Mays party lost 31 councillors.

Other home counties losses for the Conservatives included Basildon, Folkestone and Hythe, St Albans, Southend-on-Sea and Welwyn Hatfield.

In the Cambridgeshire city of Peterborough, where the Tories are hoping to win a byelection next month after the recall of the disgraced former Labour whip Fiona Onasanya, the party lost overall control of the city council.

A succession of pro-leave Tory MPs said the results should be used to give new impetus to demands for May to go.

MP Sir David Amess said the uncertainty over her future had played badly on the doorstep, and he urged a change in the partys rulebook so May can be removed from office.

It is now up to the executive of the [Tory backbench 1922 Committee] to deal with this matter immediately when parliament returns on Tuesday. They must take action because we are haemorrhaging support, he said,

Sir Bernard Jenkin said voters thought the prime minister had lost the plot.

Certainly, among Conservative activists and council candidates, there is an almost universal feeling that it is time for her to move on, he said.

In a rare piece of good news for May, the Conservatives took control of Walsall council after winning seats from Labour, having run the authority for a year without a majority.

The council leader, Mike Bird, said had and his Tory colleagues had won despite the Conservative government and May.

She hasnt helped us make any gains at all. Far from it. We made the gains despite the prime minister, he said.

In North East Lincolnshire, another Tory gain, the group leader, Philip Jackson, said the party had managed to disengage national politics from what was happening locally.

Sajid Javid, the home secretary, told a Scottish Conservative conference in Aberdeen that results at the European elections on 23 May will be even more challenging.

Without anything else at stake, it will be a verdict on the delivery of Brexit. Its like being asked to rate an Amazon delivery before its even arrived, he said.

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