The PM’s joint chiefs of staff Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill have resigned after Theresa May lost her majority in the election.
The pair have been in the firing line after Mrs May’s gamble of calling a snap election backfired, with disgruntled Conservatives highly critical of the role of Mr Timothy and Ms Hill played in the campaign.
Mr Timothy acknowledged that one of his regrets was the way the party’s controversial social care reforms, dubbed a “dementia tax” by critics, had been handled.
The PM was forced into a u-turn within days of unveiling the policy in the Tory manifesto, announcing that there would be a cap on care costs, something which had not been in the original policy document.
In a resignation message on the ConservativeHome website, Mr Timothy said: “I take responsibility for my part in this election campaign, which was the oversight of our policy programme.
“In particular, I regret the decision not to include in the manifesto a ceiling as well as a floor in our proposal to help meet the increasing cost of social care.
“But I would like to make clear that the bizarre media reports about my own role in the policy’s inclusion are wrong: it had been the subject of many months of work within Whitehall, and it was not my personal pet project.
“I chose not to rebut these reports as they were published, as to have done so would have been a distraction for the campaign.
“But I take responsibility for the content of the whole manifesto, which I continue to believe is an honest and strong programme for government.”
Ms Hill said in a statement: “It’s been a pleasure to serve in government, and a pleasure to work with such an excellent Prime Minister.
“I have no doubt at all that Theresa May will continue to serve and work hard as Prime Minister – and do it brilliantly.”
Mrs May is attempting to shore up her position in Number 10 as the head of a minority government and has sent her Chief Whip Gavin Williamson to lead talks with the Democratic Unionist Party.
The PM has made clear she wants support from her “friends and allies” in Northern Ireland’s DUP to secure her administration ahead of the Queen’s Speech on 19 June.
She is expected to make further appointments to her Cabinet on Saturday, but a full scale reshuffle is off the table given the damage done to Mrs May’s standing by the election result.
Philip Hammond, who was tipped to be removed as Chancellor if the Conservatives won a healthy majority, will remain at the Treasury.
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Home Secretary Amber Rudd, Brexit Secretary David Davis and Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon will also stay where they are.
As Mrs May clings on to power, there is disquiet within her party about the link-up with the DUP, which opposes same-sex marriage and abortion.
Scottish Conservatives leader Ruth Davidson has telephoned the Prime Minister and demanded assurances that she is not planning to ditch Tory commitments to gay rights in return for DUP votes in the Commons.