Former international development secretary Ms Patel said she has experienced first-hand the “mood” of Britons who were promised the UK would leave the European Union on March 29. She told BBC’s Westminster Hour: “I think without a doubt that frustration is there. “I have heard it myself. I’ve experienced it both with my council candidates and when I’ve been on the doorstep.
“The mood is dark. The public are frustrated.
“They are fed up I think more widely with politics and the way in which Brexit has been handled and in particular the fact that, as many people say to me in my constituency, they expected us to leave effectively on March 29. This has not happened.”
Ms Patel’s gloomy depiction of the mood in the country – and especially in Leave constituencies – reflects analysis by pollster and Tory peer Robert Hayward, who predicted the Conservative Party could lose more than 800 seats in the May 2 elections.
He told The Sun: “There’s no question that Brexit is the key factor here.
“If Mrs May’s deal or anything like it had been approved the Tories would have fared markedly better than they are likely to.”
There are 8,374 seats up for grabs in England at 33 metropolitan councils, 119 district councils, and 30 unitary authorities.
Lord Hayward said Sir Vince Cable’s Liberal Democrats were the most likely to make a big gain from the collapse of the Tories, as they may pick up more than 500 seats, while the Labour Party could get around 300 of the Conservatives’ seats.
The Tory peer said: “Since these elections are in essentially the Tory shires and Labour heartlands where Labour already hold most of the seats, the Lib Dems would expect to be well ahead of Labour in overall gains.
“The key measure for the two main opposition parties is therefore not only how many seats are gained but also the share of the Tory spoils.”
The Conservative Party chiefs seem to be aware they are facing a defeat on Thursday, as Helen Whately, the party’s deputy chairman, said Tories are in for a “difficult night” on May 2.
Saying there is a strong chance many voters would vote to “kick the Government” over the delay to Brexit, Ms Whately added: “People will see it as a chance to send a protest, send a message, so that could well hit the figures for us.”
Leading Tory personalities are urging voters not to treat the local elections as a vote on Brexit.
Former foreign secretary Boris Johnson told Britons not to punish “hard-working Tory councillors” for the Government’s handling of Brexit and ERG chairman Jacob Rees-Mogg reminded voters these elections are about their “council tax” and “bin collection”, not Brexit.