THERESA MAY insisted yesterday that she will continue as Prime Minister after her allies quashed an alleged back-bench mutiny.
Retreating to her Maidenhead constituency to make her first appearance after an embarrassing Tory Party conference, she pledged to provide “calm leadership,” claiming she had the “full support” of the Cabinet.
Former party chair Grant Shapps was forced to admit he was the rebel ringleader of around 30 backbenchers, including five former ministers, who want her replaced.
He said the plan was to approach Ms May in private to avoid the “embarrassment” of a formal leadership challenge, claiming some current Cabinet members had offered private support to the palace coup.
The group would need the names of 48 MPs to formally trigger a leadership contest under party rules.
Ms May’s car-crash conference speech on Wednesday was the latest gaffe in her increasingly incompetent leadership. She coughed and spluttered her way through a plagiarised speech as her stage backdrop fell into disarray and a comedian served her with a spoof P45.
Shadow cabinet minister Jon Trickett told the Star: “The mishaps in Theresa May’s speech were amusing to many, but the
true disaster of the speech lies in the fact that it is finally confirmed: the Tories have no plan.
“So while the captain may be calm, the crew is looking for the lifejackets. It’s clear even Conservative MPs know that their party is going down.”
Charles Walker, vice-chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee, said the attempt to force Ms May out was set to fail because of Mr Shapps’s unpopularity.
“No 10 must be delighted to learn that it is Grant Shapps leading this alleged coup,” he told the BBC.
“Grant has many talents but the one thing he doesn’t have is a following in the party. I really think this is now just going to fizzle out.
“What you are seeing here is probably the coalition of disappointed people who think their brilliant political talents have not been fully recognised.”
Veteran backbencher Michael Fabricant suggested that an “embittered” Mr Shapps held a grudge because he is no longer a minister.
He resigned in 2015 following allegations of bullying made against the then Tories’ youth wing chairman Mark Clarke, who denied serious misconduct accusations connected to the suicide of Conservative activist Elliott Johnson.