Tory MP reveals plot to challenge Cameron for leadership

 

A Tory plot to oust David Cameron has been revealed by a backbench MP who confirmed he was asked to consider a “stalking horse” leadership challenge against the Prime Minister.

Colonel Bob Stewart said he was approached by two party colleagues before the summer recess with the proposal but that he told them to "get lost" and rejected the idea as "silly".

Details of the scheming was exposed by the Mail on Sunday which also reported that Tory MP Zac Goldsmith had offered his safe Tory seat to Boris Johnson.

Mr Goldsmith has vowed to resign as the MP for Richmond in south west London if the Government revives controversial plans for a third runway at Heathrow airport - which is also fiercely opposed by the London Mayor.

The newspaper said that the idea of Mr Johnson fighting the subsequent by-election to secure a return to the Commons and the chance to challenge for the leadership was made in talks to discuss how best to oppose the airport expansion.

The idea was said to have been dismissed "out of hand" by the Mayor, whose position as a potential challenger to Mr Cameron has been reinforced by the successful London Olympics.

Asked about the separate plot, Colonel Stewart, who was commanding officer of the British battalion in Bosnia, told the Press Association: "It was a silly suggestion that I dismissed. I told them to get lost.

"I was not having anything to do with it."

He declined to name the plotters and said he had not been told on whose behalf the pair were operating.

"I do not know; I do not care," he said, insisting he remained loyal to Mr Cameron who was "the reason I came into politics".

"I may have rebelled by voting against House of Lords reform and on Europe but that does not make me disloyal. He is the leader of our country, the leader of our party and I believe in loyalty."

The Mayor's official spokesman said: "It's no surprise that the Mayor has met and will continue to meet those who share his concerns over the lack of aviation capacity in London and the South-East.

"But the story in question is without doubt fanciful."

Mr Goldsmith told the newspaper: "I saw Boris this week and we compared notes on Heathrow to see what we could do to kill off the third runway.

"We covered all sorts of possibilities. I would do anything I need to deliver to my constituents what I said I would."

Mr Johnson, who has dismissed suggestions he could cut short his mayoral term to launch a leadership bid, has led the outcry over the reconsideration of Heathrow expansion.

He strongly criticised the reshuffle ousting of Justine Greening - who is also opposed to the move - as Transport Secretary and has expressed fears the Government plans a "stealthy U-turn".

Mr Cameron has ordered a cross-party commission to seek consensus on the divisive issue of airport capacity in south east England but has insisted he will not break a manifesto pledge ruling out a third runway at Heathrow during this Parliament.

The Mayor discussed the issue with the premier in the margins of a meeting this week of the high-profile committee overseeing the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

"It's no secret the Mayor opposes the building of a third runway, he was re-elected opposing any such notion, he'll continue to oppose any such notion, and he'll be doing it as Mayor of London," the spokesman said.

"The Mayor believes the Government's announcement of an Independent Commission has at least re-opened the debate on aviation capacity. That gives him the opportunity to demonstrate why Heathrow expansion isn't the answer, and the creation of a new 4 runway hub airport is. The Mayor will be doing both in the weeks and months ahead."

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
Sport
David Silva strokes home his and City's second goal
football
Arts and Entertainment
a clockwork orange, stanley kubrick
film
Extras
The Tesco Hudl2: An exceptional Android tablet that's powerful, well-built and outstanding value
indybest

News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricket
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Life and Style
food + drinkAuthor DBC Pierre presents his guide to the morning after
Life and Style
food + drink
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas