Published: 10:00, 15 April 2019
| Updated: 11:10, 15 April 2019
A leading Conservative election strategist and Kent campaign director says voters feel betrayed by the government over Brexit and there is an “overwhelming” sense of anger on the doorstep.
Andrew Kennedy, one of the party’s best-known agents, is a council candidate in Tonbridge and Malling, where the party has one of the biggest majorities in Kent.
But he has given an unusually candid assessment of what could be in store for the government, warning of a growing backlash against all parties ahead of next month’s election.
He tweeted: "I was canvassing in a working class part of "my" ward last night. The sense of anger and betrayal over Brexit was overwhelming. Not just directed at govrnment, but all politicians.
There have been reports that Conservative Central Office has been warned by local council leaders to expect a bruising set of results on May 2 with normally loyal party activists enraged by the way Theresa May has handled Brexit negotiations and are dismayed about her decision to hold talks with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Mr Kennedy, who has been helping the election campaign in Thanet, said voters were disillusioned by the failure of MPs to act on the result of the referendum:
The concerns echo comments made by another Conservative candidate in Medway. Rupert Turpin, said support was evaporating and party activists did not want to go out canvassing.
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."
To add to the pressure on the Conservative leader, more than 100 current and would-be Tory councillors recently wrote a letter to state that they were unable to muster the volunteers needed to effectively fight next month’s local elections because “belief in the party they joined is gone”.
Meanwhile, a poll claims most voters in Kent want a final say on Brexit. The survey by campaign group “Right to Vote” comes as uncertainty continues over whether the UK is heading for a ‘no deal’ Brexit and a political stalemate at Westminster. The poll involved 9,500 adults across Britain.
It found that 53% of voters across Kent who expressed a view wanted a final say on Brexit, with 47% against.
Pressure is growing for the government to agree to a ‘confirmatory’ vote on whatever deal is agreed but that idea is being resisted by Brexiteers.
The poll found support for a second vote was greatest in Canterbury, with 65% favouring the idea.
That was followed by Tunbridge Wells, the only constituency that backed ‘remain’ in the referendum, with 58% wanting a vote on the deal.
In Maidstone,55% backed a second vote. Perhaps surprisingly, 54% of voters in North Thanet also supported the second vote option.
The same percentage was shared by Dartford and Tonbridge and Malling, while in Sevenoaks, it was 53%.
But there was a distinct lack of enthusiasm for a vote on the deal in Sittingbourne and Sheppey, where just 47% backed the idea. In Rochester and Stroodand Chatham and Aylesford,the figure was 49%.