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Kent general election results - Tory reaction

By Paul Francis

Theresa May has vowed to remain as Prime Minster and team up with the Democratic Unionists despite her election disaster.

She has vowed to remain to provide 'certainty' during the imminent Brexit negotiations.

And leading Kent Conservatives have reacted with huge disappointment to the General Election result - but have stopped short of calling for Mrs May to resign.

Theresa May. Picture: Barry Goodwin
Theresa May. Picture: Barry Goodwin

The Prime Minister is under huge pressure after her gamble on calling the election to strengthen her Brexit negotiating position backfired spectacularly.

Many commentators have predicted she will not survive after failing to secure an overall majority.

And 58% of readers voting in a KentOnline poll have said she should quit.

But there have been no calls from Kent Conservatives for her to stand down yet.

Tom Tugendhat, re-elected MP for Tonbridge and Malling, said: "There is no point in trying to hide it, it was unquestionably a bad night for us. It was very clear to me that you can't talk about reforming adult care in the middle of an election campaign."

Tom Tugendhat, MP for Tonbridge, Edenbridge and Malling
Tom Tugendhat, MP for Tonbridge, Edenbridge and Malling

But he stopped short of saying that Mrs May should quit, saying it was too early to consider the future shape of the party.

Andrew Bowles, leader of Swale Borough Council, said: "It was a calculated gamble that backfired.

Swale council leader Andrew Bowles
Swale council leader Andrew Bowles

She does need to reflect on what has happened but we are in a delicate position and I don't detect any real appetite for a leadership challenge with issues like security and Brexit to deal with."

He accepted that the party had failed to detect that there was a growing number of young people who were engaged in politics in a way that they had not been before.

"You only have to look at Canterbury," he said.

Paul Cooper, Chairman of Maidstone & the Weald Conservative Association, did not mince his words, saying: "It is nothing short of a disaster.

"You can't win by putting extra votes on safe majorities and then lose marginal seats. Something went badly awry. A gamble has been played and it has not paid off."

Paul Cooper said the results were a disaster
Paul Cooper said the results were a disaster

But he was circumspect about changing leader. "Who could it be? I don't know but I do not think the campaign should have been centred around one person."

Mrs May said she "obviously wanted a different result" and was "sorry" for colleagues who lost their seats - including veteran Canterbury and Whitstable MP Sir Julian Brazier.

Meanwhile, it has been confirmed Sevenoaks MP Michael Fallon will continue his role as Defence Secretary.

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