TORY chiefs fear losing 1,000 council seats in a local elections bloodbath next month.
Party chairman Greg Hands today admitted it would be a tough set of polls for the Conservatives.
Labour is mounting a fightback in the Red Wall while the Lib Dems are targeting Tory heartlands in the south.
Ahead of the voting – Rishi Sunak’s first ballot box test as leader – Mr Hands rolled the pitch for a nationwide drubbing.
He told Sky: “The independent expectations are that the Conservatives will lose more than 1,000 seats and that Labour need to make big gains.”
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The Cabinet Minister insisted the Government was “still working very hard in delivering” for Brits but acknowledged “it’s not going to be easy”.
But Mr Hands – who did a round of telly interviews with notes inked on his hand – said strikes had made it trickier to meet the PM’s goals.
He said relentless NHS walkouts “haven’t helped” efforts to cut waiting lists but that Mr Sunak is “definitely not giving up”.
But he defended the handling of the economy, insisting: "Overall, under this Conservative Government we've got a record to be proud of on growth."
And he rejected suggestions Home Secretary Suella Braverman be sacked as a poll showed 83 per cent of Brits thought she was failing to stop illegal migration.
Mr Hands said she was doing a "brilliant job" and hailed new laws to stop anyone coming to Britain illegally from permanently settling.
Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting hit out: "The Conservatives seem to think we've never had it so good. What planet are they living on?"
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Responding to the Tory boss’s poll gloom, a Lib Dem source said: “This admission of defeat shows the Conservatives have already thrown in the towel before a single vote has been cast.
Last year Mr Hands’ predecessor Oliver Dowden resigned following a bruising set of local elections.
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