A Tory MP broke down live on TV after her party was battered by unhappy voters and lost control of Chelmsford Council.
Vicky Ford wiped away tears as she was interviewed about Tory losses amid a Lib Dem surge which saw the pro-European party take control of the Essex council.
Her frustration came as the Tories and Labour suffered major losses on a bad night for the main parties.
By early afternoon on Friday, the Tories had suffered major losses in the local elections losing control of at least 18 councils and more than 1,000 councillors by voters angry at the recent political turmoil surrounding Brexit.
Conservatives have now lost over a thousand seats in local elections.
— Matt Cole (@BBCMattCole) May 3, 2019
Results show that so far the Tories have lost 1,033 councillors.
Labour suffered a bad night also, losing three councils and more than 100 councillors.
“I think it is really disappointing when you look at some of the individuals who have lost their seats tonight,” Ford said, adding that she blamed the political stalemate over Brexit.
The results led to calls from Tory MPs for Theresa May's removal as leader and senior Brexiteer Sir Bernard Jenkin warned the party would be "toast" unless it "mends its ways pretty quickly".
Meanwhile smaller parties had a much better night.
The Lib Dems have so far gained more than 330 councillors and the Greens 58.
There were 230 more independent councillors, while Ukip have lost more than 50 councillors in results declared so far.
If reproduced in a General Election, the BBC calculates that the Tories and Labour would each receive 28% of the vote, the Lib Dems 19% and other parties 25%, suggesting that two-party politics is clearly on the decline.
The calculation takes into account the areas where voting took place only, and not cities such as London where there was no voting.
The Conservatives lost Peterborough, Basildon, Southend, Worcester, St Albans, Welwyn Hatfield, Folkestone and Hythe, Broxtowe, Tendring and Tandridge to no overall control while Winchester, Chelmsford, Bath and North East Somerset, Somerset Wesand Taunton, Vale of White Horse, Cotswold and Hinckley and Bosworth fell to the Liberal Democrats, with North Kesteven going to independents.
However they retained control in Swindon, seen as a possible Labour gain, and took Walsall and North East Lincolnshire from no overall control.
The Conservatives had been braced for a tough night with some analysts predicting overall losses of 800 seats or more, while the Lib Dems were forecast to pick up as many as 500 seats.
Education Minister Nadhim Zahawi said the losses reflected the anger among voters over Brexit and called on MPs to rally behind Theresa May's deal.
"Because we haven't been able to deliver Brexit on March 29 we are seeing these results," he told the BBC.
"The Prime Minister has stretched every sinew, she has tried everything. We can keep blaming the Prime Minister, ultimately it is in the hands of us parliamentarians."
However senior Tory Brexiteer MP Sir Bernard Jenkin said voters overwhelmingly believed that she had "lost the plot" and that the time had come for a change of leader.
"They can see that she has lost the plot. They can see she is not in control of events," he said.
Labour lost control in Bolsover, Hartlepool and Wirral and the mayoralty in Middlesbrough, where its vote was down 11% as independent Andy Preston was elected, although it did gain Trafford from no overall control.
Even where the party held on in its traditional stronghold of Sunderland, it still lost 10 council seats.
Polling expert Professor Sir John Curtice of Strathclyde University said the voters appeared to be punishing whichever of the main two parties was in control in their area.
"The Labour Party is losing where they are strong historically, the Conservatives are losing where they are strong historically. It's a plague on all your houses," he said.
The Liberal Democrats, who fought the elections on a pro-Remain platform, picked up councils from the Conservatives, taking North Norfolk and North Devon from no overall control.
Deputy leader Jo Swinson said: "Out and about across the country, the mood has been positive. If we can get into the triple figures of gains that would be a really, really good night,.
"That would be part of that Lib Dem fightback that is happening."