Council leaders have said they are preparing for heavy losses in local elections as voters are turning on the Tories after failing to leave the EU on time, according to The Sunday Times. Concerns have grown after last week’s Newport West by-election, which saw the two main political parties suffer losses with Ukip’s votes quadrupling. Ukip candidate and former Tory MP Neil Hamilton declared the result a “success in itself” adding that it marked a “new era” for the party. Tory councils in Brexit-voting areas which include Peterborough and Southed-on-Sea have warned they will be fighting for “survival” and could see their majorities being wiped out next month.
Education minister Nadhim Zahawi warned Mrs May on Saturday she would be signing the “suicide note” of the Tory party if the European elections take place in May.
Mr Zahawi said further delay posed an “existential threat” to the party and would result in a political shift where voters would abandon the party for the hard-left or far-right.
He said: ”If we do not deliver Brexit we would be unleashing forces that I think could get this country, and indeed the rest of Europe, into a very bad place.”
Tory MEP David C Bannerman agreed with Mr Zahawi’s comments and said MPs and councillors were seeing anger on the doorstep which has not been seen since Margaret Thatcher’s poll tax.
Mr Bannerman added: “I know places in Norwich, York, the East of England, where councillors have given up canvassing due to the angry, quite aggressive reactions from Conservative voters.
“These are our people. I really think it could be awful for a lot of hard-working councillors.”
It comes as a letter circulating around Tory association chairs has warned that Mrs May’s decision to enter into cross-party talks with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is the “last straw”.
The letter, which is addressed to Conservative Party chairman Brandon Lewis, claims that the decision to make a deal with Mr Corbyn has left council candidates “fearful we will be decimated” in the local elections.
The letter also urges the Prime Minister to “step aside as soon as possible”.
It states: “Corbyn is being made to look like the statesman he is not. How do we defend this on the doorstep?
“We consider that this latest step is a step too far, which will destroy our party and result in the worst of all worlds for our country.”