Election results: Conservatives distance themselves from Theresa May as hung parliament looks likely

Cabinet minister Liam Fox danced around question concerning her future leadership

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Nervous Conservatives are distancing themselves from Theresa May and her campaign as the prospect of a hung parliament looms over Britain.

Tories openly questioned her faltering strategy, predicted another election would be needed and failed to back her leadership.

It came after the general election exit poll indicated Ms May has squandered a parliamentary majority, shed seats and paved the way for a resurgent Labour under Jeremy Corbyn.

Early results appeared to play to the exit poll, with Conservatives failing to take key target seats like Darlington and Wrexham.

As they trickled in, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox sidestepped questions about whether Ms May would be forced to resign if the Tories failed to win a majority.

Pressed on whether Ms May is irrevocably damaged, he told BBC News: “Well it's very early in the evening and I think we have to wait and see.

“I've sat through these programmes before where we've been told that there will be a hung parliament or we will get a Conservative minority government and as the results come in as you well know, we see Conservatives outperforming some of the predictions.

“So I would be pretty happy that tonight we might do the same.”

Other Tories suggested potential leadership candidates including Boris Johnson are already on manoeuvres, sounding out potential support.

Another senior Tory told The Independent: “If these results play out, then the most obvious answer is that we would need another election, probably within six months.

“I find it difficult to see how Brexit negotiations could continue, how anyone could form a coalition to do it.”

Prime Minister Theresa May casts her vote

Ex-chancellor George Osborne, who was fired by Ms May after she took office, was scathing about the Prime Minister and her campaign.

He said : “Is the Conservative party likely to want her fighting the next general election, there’s a very large question mark over that at the moment if these are what the results are.

“She called this election. She didn’t really frame the question. The manifesto which was drafted by her and about two other people, was a total disaster and must go down now as one of the worst manifestos in history by a governing party.

“I say one of the worse, I can’t really think of a worse one.”

Ex-Tory MP and former minister Gerald Howarth said: “I think the campaign did not concentrate on why the general election was being held.”