Theresa May has dismissed a plot by up to 30 Tory MPs to topple her, insisting she has the “full support of my Cabinet”.
The Prime Minister sought to send out a “business as usual” message on a visit in her Maidenhead constituency, after the ringleader of the coup attempt was unmasked.
Grant Shapps, a former party chairman, said both Remainers and Brexiteers were among about 30 Conservative MPs who wanted the Prime Minister to fall on her sword.
But Ms May told reporters: “Now what the country needs is calm leadership, and that's what I am providing with the full support of my Cabinet.”
The Prime Minister argued she was making progress on both her domestic agenda and on delivering the deal on Brexit, the issue that overshadows her premiership.
MPs would be “updated” next week on her recent Florence speech, which, she claimed, had given “real momentum” to the withdrawal negotiations.
And she added: “Next week, I will be introducing a draft bill to cap energy prices to stop ordinary working families being ripped off.”
The defiant message came after Ms Shapps said unnamed Cabinet ministers – and five former Cabinet members – believed the Prime Minister’s time was up.
The plotters had intended to go to Ms May “privately” to persuade her to stand down, but Mr Shapps accused Tory whips of leaking his name to a newspaper, as an organiser.
The whips had “pleaded” with him not to go public before the Conservative party conference, which he had agreed not to do.
Mr Shapps said the MPs wanting the Prime Minister to resign did not agree on a replacement, which should be a choice for the Tory faithful.
“This is not about promoting an individual. It’s about having a proper and full leadership election and that should go out to party members as well.”
No 10 was encouraged after a string of senior Cabinet ministers – although not Boris Johnson – gave the Prime Minister their full public support and condemned the plotters.
Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, paid tribute to Ms May’s “guts and grace” and said she must press on with her social justice agenda, adding: “She should stay.”
And Michael Gove, the Environment Secretary insisted the whole Cabinet and the “overwhelming majority” of Tory members “want the Prime Minister to focus on the job that 14m people elected her to do earlier this year”.
Earlier, Damian Green, the effective Deputy Prime Minister’ ridiculed any suggestion she should quit over the fiasco of her conference speech.
“The idea that, because somebody gets a cold when they’re at the work, that that somehow renders them the wrong person for the job, or that because some unfunny pillock pulls a practical joke that that is in any way an important political event, is complete nonsense,” he said.
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