Lib Dem leader said it would be bad for Britain if the Conservatives won big in local and national polling.
Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has urged voters not to give the Tories a landslide victory as the polls opened in local elections.
Mr Farron claimed Theresa May believes next month’s General Election is already in the bag, but said it would be bad for Britain if the Conservatives won big in local and national polling.
He visited a polling station at Allithwaite, in his constituency of Westmorland and Lonsdale, with all 84 Cumbria County Council seats up for election.
Mr Farron said: “It’s a reminder that what we are facing in the General Election in the weeks to come is the Conservatives taking absolutely everyone for granted, assuming they are going to win with not just a majority but a colossal landslide, that’s really bad for democracy.
“Remember Theresa May has been telling European leaders that she’s already won the election which, you know, may be news to the electorate, but that’s nevertheless what she is saying and it’s certainly what she thinks.
“And even if you are the sort of person who might have normally voted Conservative, today and indeed in five weeks’ time, is an opportunity to make sure that Britain actually remains a functioning democracy, because if there is a Conservative landslide today in the local elections and a few weeks’ time in the General Election, that is really bad for Britain.
“Your community, whether it’s here in Cumbria or elsewhere around the country, the worst thing for your hospital, your school, for your police service is a Tory landslide because they will just then completely take you for granted.”
Mr Farron said he did not “have a figure in my head” for the number of council seats he hoped his party could win but claimed only the Liberal Democrats could provide “strong opposition” to the Tories.
He added: “It does certainly feel to me that the Liberal Democrats are the only party, certainly amongst the opposition parties, with momentum behind us, with a clear, bold message saying that Britain can do better than the shoddy direction that Theresa May is currently taking us in.
“And what we really need is a strong opposition that will hold the Conservatives to account. That clearly isn’t Labour any more and it must therefore be the Liberal Democrats.”
More than 4,800 council seats are being contested across England, Wales and Scotland and there are also eight mayoral elections including in six new combined local authorities.