Poll finds 40% of Tory grassroots would vote for the Brexit party
PUBLISHED: 11:58 21 April 2019 | UPDATED: 12:00 21 April 2019
Tory councillors are revolting against Theresa May over her handling of Brexit, with 40% prepared to vote for Nigel Farage's rival party at the European elections.
A survey of elected grassroots Conservatives found three quarters of May's councillors wanted her to resign, with 43% of them calling for her to quit immediately.
Just over half - 52% - said they would vote Tory at the European election, a figure that would rise to 65% if Mrs May was replaced by Brexiteer Boris Johnson, the Survation poll for the Mail On Sunday found.
Some 40% said they would vote for Mr Farage's Brexit Party, a figure that would fall to 22% if Mr Johnson was in Number 10.
There was almost complete agreement that the Brexit deadlock had damaged the Conservatives, with 96% saying the party had been harmed.
One councillor in the Survation study said: “The Conservative Party is dead. It will take a strong leader to dredge it out of the mud.”
Another said: “For God's sake get on with it (Brexit) - it is killing us on the doorstep.”
Some 43% said May should resign now and 33% once a Brexit deal has been reached - the timetable the Prime Minister has indicated for her departure.
Johnson was backed by 23% as the best leader, followed by Michael Gove on 14%, Jeremy Hunt on 12%, Sajid Javid on 11% and Dominic Raab on 9%.
The Mail On Sunday report came after a survey of more than 1,000 Tory members by the influential ConservativeHome website found nearly eight out of 10 want Mrs May to quit.
And it followed the Tory group on Derbyshire County Council announcing it would not campaign for the party in the European elections.
A ConservativeHome survey of 1,132 party members on its panel found 79% wanted May to quit and trigger a leadership contest.
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.”
Just 19% of those surveyed wanted May to stay on as leader.
Goodman said: “The second postponement of Brexit and the talks with Jeremy Corbyn are undoubtedly huge contributors to this lamentable rating.
“The latter especially is making campaigning uphill work indeed for many local government candidates.
“However, we suspect the biggest factor is the European Parliamentary elections that are due to take place.”
In a suggestion that ministers should now tell Mrs May her time is up, he said: “The voluntary Party has lost confidence in the prime minister. Is anyone listening around the cabinet table?”