Nick Timothy (centre) and Fiona Hill (right) Photo credit: PA
Theresa May’s two most senior Downing Street advisors have quit after the Conservatives lost their majority in Thursday’s general election.
Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill had been facing calls to quit amid widespread criticism of the Conservative campaign.
In a piece for ConservativeHome, Timothy revealed he had informed the prime minister of his decision on Friday.
Describing the election outcome – which saw the Tories increase their vote share but lose seats – as a “huge disappointment”, Timothy said he had failed to pick up on the “unexpected surge” in support for Labour.
He insisted May was the right leader to take the party and Conservatives forward, however.
“Britain is a divided country: many are tired of austerity, many remain frustrated or angry about Brexit, and many younger people feel they lack the opportunities enjoyed by their parents’ generation,” he wrote.
“Ironically, the prime minister is the one political leader who understands this division, and who has been working to address it since she became Prime Minister last July. The Conservative election campaign, however, failed to get this and Theresa’s positive plan for the future across.”
He said he was taking responsibility for the poorly-received manifesto – but denied that the shake-up of social care funding, which was branded a “dementia tax” by critics, had been his “personal pet project”.
“I take responsibility for the content of the whole manifesto, which I continue to believe is an honest and strong programme for government.”
The resignation of the Downing Street chiefs comes after both were allowed to return to government work during the election campaign, in an unusual move following the terrorism attacks in Manchester and London.
They have been replaced by former housing minister Gavin Barwell, who lost his Croydon Central seat in Thursday’s election.
Before entering Parliament at the 2010 general election, Barwell spent 17 years working in a variety of roles in Conservative party headquarters.
"He has been a first class minister and is widely respected," Mrs May said in a statement yesterday.
"He will bring considerable experience of the party to the post. As I said yesterday, I want to reflect on the election and why it did not deliver the result I hoped for.
"Gavin will have an important role to play in that. I look forward to working with him."