Ipswich Tory chief calls for Theresa May to quit over Brexit failure

Ipswich Conservative Chairman John Howard has joined calls for Theresa May to step down as Prime Min

Ipswich Conservative Chairman John Howard has joined calls for Theresa May to step down as Prime Minister. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Sarah Lucy brown

Conservatives in Ipswich have added their voice to calls on the prime minister to stand down and hand over to a new party leader.

Prime Minister Theresa May arrives with her husband Philip to attend an Easter Sunday church service

Prime Minister Theresa May arrives with her husband Philip to attend an Easter Sunday church service near her Maidenhead constituency. She is likely to face new calls to quit today, Picture: Steve Parsons/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Ipswich Conservative Association chairman John Howard is one 70 local association chiefs from around the country calling for an extraordinary general meeting of the National Conservative Convention to discuss her leadership.

It is just one of the calls that will be facing her from MPs, councillors and party workers after a difficult two weeks of campaigning on the doorsteps of the country.

Conservatives who have working on local election campaigns, and now hastily-arranged European elections, have found anger among voters about the failure to negotiate Brexit – and they are now openly calling for Mrs May to quit.

Mr Howard said: “Most of our Association feel it is time for her to stand down now. She has done all she could – no-one is doubting that she has worked very hard to try to get Brexit through, but it hasn’t happened and now someone else needs to take over.”

He said it was clear that Conservatives across the country felt the same – but he was not sure if any other Association chairs from Suffolk had followed his lead.

Weekend opinion polls suggested that some Conservative councillors were likely to vote for Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party because they were so fed up with the Government’s failure to negotiate a departure from the European Union.

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A survey of elected grassroots Conservatives found three-quarters of Mrs 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.”

Survation questioned 781 Tory councillors between April 17 and 19.

Some 43% said Mrs May should resign now and 33% once a Brexit deal has been reached - the timetable the Prime Minister has indicated for her departure.

Mr 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.

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

As an extension to the Brexit process has been granted until October, the UK is 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.

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