U.K. Election Upset: Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May’s Closest Aides Resign Amid Accusations of 'Abusive' Behavior

Two of U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May’s closest aides have resigned amid mounting criticism of their handling of her election campaign: Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill have been blamed for running a campaign that placed May as the sole focus and for drafting a weak Conservative Party manifesto.

Immediately after the pair announced their resignations, the BBC reported that senior members of May’s party told her that if Timothy and Hill didn’t leave, they would instigate a leadership challenge early next week. Conservative party members allegedly told May they were confident that they could get the requisite 48 signatures to invoke a leadership contest.

Just after midnight on Saturday, the Times ran a damning article in which May’s former director of communications Katie Perrior lambasted the pair, calling their behavior: “rude, abusive, childish.” Writing in the Times Perrior added: “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.”

Announcing his departure, Timothy said that the Conservatives’ election campaign, which resulted in the party losing 13 seats, had failed to get its message across. In a resignation statement published on the Conservative Home website, Timothy wrote: “I take responsibility for my part in this election campaign, which was the oversight of our policy program. 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.”

With her key advisers gone, May might have bought herself a slight reprieve from the onslaught of criticism she faces from her own party. Nevertheless, her external detractors continue to call for her to step down. The U.K. Labour Party, which won 262 seats and 40 percent of the vote compared to the Conservative Party’s 318, said it wants to form a government backed by smaller parties that will be more representative of the British public than the anti-abortion, anti-gay rights Northern Irish DUP party with whom May is likely to form a coalition government.