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'Most Tories want Theresa May to quit' and some councillors will back Farage's Brexit party, polls say

Jacob Jarvis

A majority of Tories want Theresa May to quit as party leader while a huge chunk of Conservative councillors could support the Brexit party in EU elections, according to new surveys.

A survey of elected grassroots Conservatives found three quarters of Mrs May's councillors wanted her to resign while 43 per cent are urging her to quit immediately.

Just more than half said they would vote Tory at the European election, the Survation poll for the Mail On Sunday found.

Some 40 per cent said they would vote for Mr Farage's Brexit Party if Mrs May remained leader.

Nigel Farage speaking at a Brexit Party rally (PA)

Another poll, by the ConservativeHome site, found nearly eight of 10 Conservatives want her gone.

Its survey of 1,132 party members on its panel found 79 per cent wanted Mrs May to quit and trigger a leadership contest.

The Prime Minister has previously said she will not lead the Tories into the next election, due in 2022.

She has also promised to bring her departure forward if her Brexit deal gets through Parliament.

Former Tory MP Paul Goodman, the website's editor, said: "It's like Groundhog Day for the Prime Minister - but in which each one is worse than that before.

"Last month, a record total of seven out of 10 of our panel members wanted a new Party leader. This month we have a new record of nearly eight out of 10."

He said this shift appeared to be in part due to the postponement of Brexit and talks with opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn.

However, Mr Goodman said his team suspects "the biggest factor is the European Parliamentary elections that are due to take place."

Theresa May is currently away from Downing Street for the Easter recess

Less than one in five, 19 per cent, of those surveyed wanted Mrs May to stay on as leader.

These damning new results come as the Tory group on a county council said they will not take part in the European elections and will not support party colleagues hoping to become MEPs.

The group at Derbyshire County Council have said they will take "no part" in the May poll.

They said they believe the elections "should not be happening".

Barry Lewis, who has led the Derbyshire authority since May 2017, said he had informed party chairman Brandon Lewis of the boycott of the European elections.

This, he said, had received overwhelming support from his colleagues.

He said: "This was not an easy decision to take and goes against every natural instinct we have as Conservatives to support our hardworking MEPs and candidates."

"However, we were promised, following the largest public mandate a UK Government has ever received, that we would be out by March 29.

"The Prime Minister said we would be out by that date countless times, so did many others in Government, and yet here we are racing towards the end of April and facing an increased prospect of participating in a European Election in May that should not be happening."

With an extension to the Brexit process granted until October, the UK looks obliged to elect 73 MEPs to the European Parliament who will sit until Britain leaves on October 31 or when the Withdrawal Agreement is ratified in the Commons.