Tough break for Theresa May as top aides quit

Theresa May did not want to call an election but was talked into it by her advisers Ben STANSALL  afp  Getty Images

British Prime Minister Theresa May's Joint Chief of Staff Fiona Hill and Nick Timothy have resigned after they faced severe criticism from several MPs and officials of the party who were of the opinion that both Hill and Timothy played an important role for the poor performance of the party at the recently concluded general elections.

Amid reports senior Tories were sounding out potential replacements for Mrs May, prominent Conservative MP Heidi Allen said the Prime Minister had six months at most left in Downing Street.

In a short statement, Ms Hill said it had been "a pleasure to work with such an excellent Prime Minister".

She also echoed comments made by Evans and Perrior that much of the party had been shut out of the campaign.

A party spokesperson confirmed the resignation of Hill, a combative character who one ex-colleague said had helped create a "toxic" atmosphere at the heart of government.

After recalling one such moment over how to campaign during the Copeland by-election, she wrote: "Normally we would all sit there while Fiona would raise some bat**** insane idea and not say a word".

After failing to secure a majority in the parliament in the election, Prime Minister Theresa May has announced plans to form a government with the backing of the Democratic Unionist Party.

Timothy said in his statement that the election result was "a huge disappointment".

Ministers say initial talks with the DUP have already begun.

The DUP meanwhile said that discussion will continue into next week "to work on the details and to reach agreement on arrangements for the new Parliament". "One of them is country, one of the others is LGBTI rights", she told the BBC.

The DUP's opposition to same-sex marriage and abortion has also alarmed some in May's party, particularly Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, who is gay.

The Queen's Speech setting out the Government's programme is due on June 19, with a highly significant vote on its content expected after a few days' debate. A petition on Change.org had more than half a million signatures by Saturday afternoon, calling for May's resignation over her alliance with the DUP. "And I want to encourage all Conservatives to come through this hard period, unite behind the prime minister, and focus on the need to heal the divisions in our country".

The Tories were forced into an embarrassing U-turn during the campaign after a manifesto pledge to let people pay for their care after their death, believed to have been written by Mr Timothy, was dubbed the "dementia tax" because it did not put a cap on costs. She was criticized for refusing to take part in a televised leaders' debate and for carefully controlling her campaign activities to keep the public at arm's length.

She put on a courageous face, refusing to show any contrition for the election gamble that spectacularly backfired, but observers say she has been deeply wounded. The Times newspaper ran a front-page story on May's tenuous future as Conservative leader Saturday with the headline "May stares into the abyss". And the Sun tabloid led with "She's had her chips", pointing to a campaign moment of May awkwardly eating fries, while implying she was on the way out.

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