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Warning Theresa May's Brexit talks with Jeremy Corbyn could damage support for Conservative party

A Medway Conservative councillor says support for the party is evaporating among activists with Theresa May's decision to open talks with Jeremy Corbyn about Brexit the final straw.

Cllr Rupert Turpin, who is standing for election in the Rochester South and Horsted ward, said party members in the Medway Towns were either staying at home or simply posting leaflets ahead of next month's poll.

His intervention is embarrassing for the party but reflects the unease among rank-and-file members about Theresa May's leadership and particularly her decision to hold talks with Jeremy Corbyn.

Cllr Rupert Turpin
Cllr Rupert Turpin

In an article for the Daily Telegraph, he said: "The mood among the Conservative grassroots is now grim.

"Fighting local elections in just one month’s time, many members in our constituency in Kent are staying at home or just delivering leaflets rather than knocking on doors."

He said Mrs May had confirmed the "sell-out many are saying is the final straw".

"Months and years of Jeremy Corbyn being the traitor, the Marxist, the anti-Semite and incidentally our default best electoral asset when things didn’t go so well have turned to this - Corbyn holding the key to a softer Brexit, and invited to turn it with Mrs May hand in hand," he said.

Quoting the words of George Orwell, he wrote: "The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which".

"Local members are flooding WhatsApp groups with their reactions, many of which are not pretty reading for the party leadership at a critical moment in the electoral cycle.

"Some members are resigning with immediate effect: I expect the emails are coming in all over the country."

"The mood among the Conservative grassroots is now grim" - Cllr Rupert Turpin

The party had at a local level to distance itself from what he described as " the disastrous goings-ons at Westminster" and implore voters to consider local issues.

"Years of careful stewardship and steady progress for Conservative-run councils in difficult economic circumstances have been put at risk - perhaps not so much from Conservative voters switching to Labour but from Conservative voters who may well stay at home and not vote at all."

The Conservatives currently have a comfortable majority on the council, holding 34 wards against 15 for Labour with one Ukip and four independents.

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