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 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 showed 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.
The ConservativeHome survey of 1,132 party members on its panel showed 79% wanted Mrs May to quit and trigger a leadership contest.
The Prime Minister has said she will not lead the Tories into the next election – due in 2022 – and has promised to bring her departure forward if her Brexit deal gets through Parliament.
Former Tory MP Paul Goodman, the website’s editor, 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.”
Just 19% of those surveyed wanted Mrs May to stay on as leader.