Tory council candidates warn Theresa May party support ‘in freefall’ over her Brexit stance
Theresa May has been warned by more than 100 Tory council candidates that her move towards a softer Brexit will see the party lose seats across the country in May.
Seats on about 150 councils across England are up for grabs next month, however those defending their seats and those hoping to get elected have said they risk being dumped “through no fault of their own”.
In an letter to the Prime Minister furious campaigners warned Mrs May that “donations have dried up”, and that voters see her attempt to agree a deal by reaching out to Jeremy Corbyn as a “breach of faith”.
It came as the PM insisted she had “no choice” but to reach out to the Labour leader after hardline Brexiteer Tories and the DUP knocked back her deal on three occasions.
The plea by candidates, which was published in the Sunday Telegraph, says: “Support for the Party around the country is in freefall because our voters think we have broken our promises to them.
“The message comes back loud and clear: they want us to leave the EU now with the Brexit they were promised.
“They don’t want more fudge, they don’t want more delay or extension, they don’t want another referendum, they don’t want any more broken manifesto promises, they don’t want the Withdrawal Agreement and they don’t want to see power over Brexit handed to Jeremy Corbyn, whom they rightly distrust as an extremist and terrorist sympathiser.”
The intervention comes after the PM wrote to EU chiefs asking for them to grant the UK another extension to Article 50 when they convene at an emergency EU Council summit this week.
Mrs May had asked for a delay until 30 June or earlier, if a deal is agreed, however it is widely believed that Brussels will only consider a so-called “flextension”, whereby Britain could be kept in the EU for up to another year, again, unless it approves a deal beforehand.
However the group of councillors called on Mrs May to quit the bloc without an agreement and pointed to polls that suggest that this is the preferred option of Conservative voters.
They add: “We’re not just hearing this from voters. We are short of party members to come out and canvass because the belief in the Party they joined is gone.
“Many of us have knocked on the door of paid-up Party members only to hear that they will no longer support Conservatives because they feel betrayed over Brexit. Donations have dried up.
“We are extremely concerned that the Government’s breach of faith with the electorate on Brexit will result in long-serving Conservative councillors losing office through no fault of their own.
“Other hard-working Conservative candidates will suffer where they deserve to win.”