Theresa May needs to be quit as Prime Minister to because the Brexit talks "resemble a Greek tragedy and it only ends when everyone is dead", a leading Tory party donor says today.
Jeremy Hosking, a City financier who has donated £375,000 to the party since 2015, says the Government’s strategy to exit the European Union had to change.
Mr Hosking is the first major donor to speak about against Mrs May and her Brexit talks.
He tells today’s Chopper’s Brexit Podcast that it is time to take decisive action to ensure that Britain gets the best possible deal to leave the EU in March next year.
He says: “We are three-nil down and it is half time. We are in the dressing room having half time oranges and the plan is to wait until we are six-nil down and hope for a miracle in injury time? It just resembles a Greek tragedy and it only ends when everyone is dead.”
Mrs May had to be replaced “as soon as possible. There needs to be an audit on the strategy – the strategy is not working.
“I feel like a bit like the story of the emperor’s new clothes – someone has got to say it – it ain’t working.”
Mr Hosking claims that the difficulties over the talks were part of a "deliberate" attempt to keep the UK in the EU, saying: "I personally have joined up my dots and concluded that it is deliberate... It doesn't really matter if it is deliberate or not if it is a failing strategy."
Mr Hosking says other donors shared his concerns. "The collapse in morale in the last four weeks is absolutely staggering.
"We see absolutely no way out of the box on the current strategy, the same team is being sent out after half time with the same inability to play football, and they are scoring goals at will... Our troops are on the beach and they are surrounded."
He adds: “There very definitely needs to be a change and a reset. You would need to have a new person to implement a strategy that is completely different to the old strategy.
“A lot of the parliamentary Conservative party think everyone is going very well – and I am talking about some of the Brexiteers.
“It is a bit like the man who jumps out of the 50th Storey window – as they fly by the 20th Storey it is all going great but it is not going to have a happy ending.
“The way it is going at the moment we are going to wake up in February 2019 and realise it is not going very well and we have only got injury time to score five goals.”
He says that "somehow being a Brexiteer is politically incorrect. Those who oppose Brexit are playing on that like mad. There is a Pavlovian reflex from people to believe it, that we are xenophobes, racists and wife-beaters".
Eurosceptics were considered to be “nutters and lunatics”, he complains.
The party’s leadership felt that “the people who voted to leave didn’t really mean it and he idea of the Tories betraying Euroscepticism – and they are repeat offenders in this regard – that is still OK”.
Separately, David Mundell, the Scottish secretary, says people in Scotland were getting bored of the SNP’s repeated calls to make Scotland independent.
He tells the podcast: “The public’s appetite for discussing these issues is waning. People are fed up across the political spectrum of constantly hearing about independence and constitution.
“Even people who voted yes in 2014 – a lot of those people don’t want another independence referendum because it was a very divisive event.
“And although we politicians went out afterwards and said ‘isn’t it great, 80 per cent of people voted, virtually everybody who was alive in Scotland voted in that referendum.
“And although we say it is great public engagement, most people hated it when you speak to them, they hated the fact that they fell out with friends and family, with people in pubs like the Red Lion.
“People were divided, at their work they were divided. It was very intense in the final weeks. In the street you could not go out and avoid it.
“People don’t want to return to that. They feel it was a once in a generation event. There was a divisive result in favour of staying in the United Kingdom and we should leave it be.”
Mr Mundell, the second longest serving Cabinet minister who voted to Remain in the EU at the 2016 referendum, says he would vote to remain again if there were a referendum today.
He says: “I voted Remain and I would probably still vote Remain but I accepted the result.”
Asked how he deals with abuse from nationalists on Twitter, he says: “I just don’t look at it. I know what I am taking on.
“I asked to do this – nobody is making me. It is a harsh political environment in Scotland, indeed across most of the UK, you just have to get on with it.”
Other guests are Ayesha Hazarika and Tom Hamilton, former aides to ex-Labour leader Ed Miliband, who have written “Punch & Judy”, an account of preparing for the weekly Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons.
Chopper’s Brexit Podcast is available on the Telegraph’s website and iTunes from 6am on Friday May 25.