Tory leader of Derbyshire County Council urges Prime Minister Theresa May to go

Prime Minsiter Theresa May.
Prime Minsiter Theresa May.

The Conservative leader of Derbyshire County Council has said Prime Minister Theresa May 'must see that it is time to go' - and claimed the Tory party is 'on the brink of implosion'.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove told Sky News that Mrs May will be Prime Minister 'for a while to come yet' and insisted she should be given the 'time, space and dignity to leave in a way that she believes is right'.

Barry Lewis, leader of Derbyshire County Council.

Barry Lewis, leader of Derbyshire County Council.

Mrs May has promised to stand down once the first phase of Brexit has been resolved - but the deadlock over Britain's departure from the European Union continues to drag on.

This impasse has seen Brexit pushed back from March to the end of October and Britain having to hold European elections on May 23.

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'These are extraordinary times'

In a series of tweets to Mr Gove on Tuesday morning, Councillor Barry Lewis, who has been Conservative leader of the county council since 2017, said: "The party is on the brink of implosion.

"The Prime Minister has had several chances to outline the time and date of her choosing and she cannot deliver the Brexit the people voted for. And you (Mr Gove) are part of the problem.

"I cannot ever think of a time when we were fifth in polling - even slipping behind the Liberal Democrats.

"The scale of the defeat the party is likely to see at the ballot box on May 23 will be very difficult to recover from, as lifelong Conservative voters for the first time lend or give their vote to another party because they've lost faith in the party and the Prime Minister.

"I have always been and always will be a Conservative supporter and voter but the Prime Minister must see that it is time to go. It makes me sad to keep repeating it. I know many colleagues feel the same. These are extraordinary times.

"Mr Gove's comments just add to the sense of the growing gulf between those that are in Westminster and the grassroots party supporters and electorate. The only succour we can take is that Labour are equally mired in similar issues.

"And don't get me started on the Liberal Democrats and the crass ridiculousness of inviting Guy Verhofstadt to launch their campaign. Talk about divorced from reality."