Published: 20:56, 19 August 2020
| Updated: 21:23, 19 August 2020
Rebel Tories have moved a step closer to ousting their council leader after defeating him by a landslide margin in a no-confidence vote.
It came shortly after he created unrest by telling KentOnline the cash-strapped Canterbury authority will likely have to make redundancies as it deals with the financial fallout of the Covid-19 outbreak .
And tonight the embattled leader, who was sworn into the role last year, has been voted out from his role as party chair by colleagues - with just three choosing to support him.
Cllr Thomas wrote afterwards on Twitter: "An update from Canterbury City Council's Conservative Group is I have lost a vote of no confidence this evening by 15 for, three against and three abstentions."
He will remain the leader of the city council until a new one is selected by the party.
Long-time Tory Pat Todd has been placed in charge of the group until an extraordinary general meeting is held within the next fortnight, during which Ben Fitter-Harding is expected to stand unopposed for the role.
Party sources say Tankerton councillor Neil Baker, Lord Mayor Terry Westgate and Cllr Todd were the three who voted against the motion this evening.
Meanwhile, husband-and-wife Conservatives Louise and Matthew Jones-Roberts and the now-former leader abstained from taking part in the poll.
It is believed divisions existed since long before the virus struck, with fellow Tories said to have little confidence in Cllr Thomas's "boringly competent" style.