Downing Street denies Theresa May considered stepping down and insists she is focused on 'leading the country'

Conservatives have signalled she must turn her premiership around or face a challenge

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Downing Street has brushed aside any suggestion Theresa May has considered quitting and sought to assert her authority saying she is "leading the country".

The Prime Minister’s official spokeswoman said Ms May is concentrating on trying to handle a "challenging agenda", despite a weekend of fraught speculation about a potential coup. 

Ms May’s authority was already in question following the botched election campaign, but pressure intensified amid criticism of her handling of the Grenfell Tower fire.

Asked whether she has thought about resigning on Monday, a No 10 spokeswoman said: "These are incredibly challenging times with a couple of terrible incidents in a week. She is leading the country through these incidents, through this difficult time."

In the fallout of the election there has been speculation about a challenge to Ms May, with reports of a split cabinet and rivals cementing their support

Chancellor Philip Hammond criticised Ms May’s handling of the campaign on Sunday, lamenting mistakes including a failure to focus on his party’s economic record. He also dodged a question about her future, refusing to say how long he believes she will remain in No 10.

Mr Hammond is involved in a cabinet struggle over Brexit, as he pushes for a more jobs-focussed approach, while Leave-backing ministers are said to be threatening to resign if Ms May ditches her tough negotiating stance.

It was reported that Ms May has 10 days to sort out her operation or face a stalking horse challenge to her leadership from backbenchers, something that would require letters from 48 Tory MPs.

Philip Hammond refuses to answer question of how long Theresa May has got as PM

Asked if he expects the Prime Minister to stay in post, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said: “My strong feeling is that the last thing the electorate wants is more elections or more political shenanigans of one kind or another. There's a huge task to get on with with Brexit.”