Theresa May's closest advisers, Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill, have resigned after a disastrous election result that ended with the Conservative party losing their majority.
The two were joint chiefs of staff in Downing Street before heading up Theresa May's campaign in the snap General Election. They came under fire today for being involved in some of the campaign's biggest mistakes, according to reports.
In a statement on the Conservative Home website, Timothy said he had resigned yesterday. A Tory spokesperson confirmed Hill had also quit.
Timothy called the election result a "huge disappointment", and he blamed the loss in Tory MPs on "an unexpected surge in support for Labour" due to division in the country.
"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."
Timothy helped draft the Tory manifesto. Its failures, including the so-called dementia tax, have been cited as the turning point in the campaign.
I take responsibility for my part in this election campaign, which was the oversight of our policy programme. In particular, I regret the decision not to include in the manifesto a ceiling as well as a floor in our proposal to help meet the increasing cost of social care.
However, he denied media reports of his role in the policy's inclusion.
"It’s been a pleasure to serve in government, and a pleasure to work with such an excellent Prime Minister," said Hill in a statement on Conservative Home. "I have no doubt at all that Theresa May will continue to serve and work hard as Prime Minister – and do it brilliantly."
Hill was reportedly involved in internal rows, including one with Ruth Davidson, the Conservative leader in Scotland.
The atmosphere in the Conservative Campaign HQ was said to have turned toxic.
In the firing line
Previously, the pair known as "Nick and Fi" were criticised for holding too much power and being too close to May.
Katie Perrior, former Downing Street director of communications, criticised their "rude, abusive, childish behaviour" in the Times.
"For two people who have never achieved elected office, I was staggered at the disrespect they showed on a daily basis. I never hated them. I felt sorry for them and how they measured success by how many enemies they had clocked up," Perrior said.
Tory backbench MP Sarah Wollaston said May cannot carry on with her "small inner circle of mostly unelected and discredited special advisers".
5. PM simply cannot carry on as if this is 'business as usual' with a small inner circle of mostly unelected & discredited special advisers— Sarah Wollaston (@sarahwollaston) June 9, 2017
Heidi Allen, Tory MP for South Cambridgeshire, said the advisers' failures reflected badly on the PM.
Speaking on LBC radio she said: "Frankly, if a leader picks people who advise them so badly, and cannot see that they are being advised so badly, then that tells me, I'm afraid, that that's not the leader that we need.
Clearly, they weren't the right people and therefore, by default, to me that means the whole leadership organisation just isn't functioning properly because it is not responding.