SEVERAL Dorset MPs have rallied round Theresa May after her general election disaster – but a councillor has quit the Conservatives over the “direction the party is taking”.

The Tories hope to win support from the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) which takes a hard-line stance on gay marriage and abortion.

Cllr Russell Trent, who represents Alderney on Poole council, announced on Saturday that he was leaving the party.

“I would like to make it clear that I have made this decision because of the direction the Conservative party is taking nationally. It is not as a result of anything relating to the Conservative elected members representing Poole,” he said.

He added: “I am a big advocate for women’s rights and for LGBT rights. I cannot align myself to a party that would work with anyone who advocates reducing those rights – I simply couldn’t support that.”

New Forest West MP Sir Desmond Swayne called the election campaign a “disaster”, adding: “The future of the PM now depends on events. Perhaps she will have some luck. If the EU negotiations go well she may be OK."

He was “relaxed” about the DUP, since issues such as gay marriage were devolved to the Northern Ireland government.

Bournemouth West MP Conor Burns said: "The position we’re in is far from ideal. We wanted to win the election and we wanted to win it outright.

"We failed to do that in spectacular style but I think the task is, within a very difficult context, to do our best to try and form a stable and lasting administration and steer Britain through the challenges that lie ahead on Brexit negotiations and other things."

The DUP would not influence British policy on social issues. "As a Conservative MP who voted to support same sex marriage, any attempt to do so would be done over my dead body," he said.

Christchurch MP Chris Chope said of Mrs May: “I think she has proved to be a much better prime minister and member of the government than she has a popular campaigner.

“What we don’t need now is a popular campaigner, because we’ve had the general election. We need somebody who’s strong and resilient and can take control of government and she’s the right person to do that.”

He said: “It looks as though we’re going to be able to have the support of the DUP for the Queen’s Speech programme. If we can do that, then it seems to me we are on course to being able to deliver the Brexit negotiations, which is the top priority, and once we’ve got a government then most of what we rely on is done by government rather than by parliament.

“Every cloud’s got a silver lining. It may be the silver lining on this is there will be less legislation and there will be a lot more implementation of what we’ve already got on the statute books and making it work.”

Mid-Dorset and North Poole MP Michael Tomlinson said: “The national picture is difficult, clearly that is the case. But we are still the largest party and what we don’t want is to descend into chaos at this stage. I think Theresa May can do it, she can stay on.

”Part of the difficulty was expectation - our expectations, in my opinion, were unrealistically high, and Corbyn’s were rock bottom. So for them to stagger through into second place feels like a win for many people. But when you look at it, he did barely better than Gordon Brown in 2010.”

Many people had asked about DUP policies but there would be no coalition and no "enacting those policies which so many of our supporters and members would find so distasteful".Poole MP Robert Syms, Bournemouth East’s Tobias Ellwood and South Dorset’s Richard Drax have all backed Mrs May to continue.

Mr Syms added: “She has been asked by the Queen to form a government as she still commands the confidence of the Commons and the Conservative Party.”