Theresa May’s deputy pleaded with warring Tories to show each other ‘mutual respect’ today amid claims she is about to be ousted.
David Lidington, the newly installed Cabinet Office minster and Mrs May’s de facto deputy appealed for calm today after a former Tory chairman demanded the PM set a departure date.
He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr ‘the Conservative family, left, right and centre needs to come together in a spirit of mutual respect’.
Rivals for the Tory crown are jostling for the lead in a shadow race to replace Mrs May and Westminster is rife without rumours backbench MPs could start an official contest at any moment.
Mr Lidington called on Brexiteer such as Jacob Rees-Mogg to give Mrs May time and ‘see how the negotiations go’.
He insisted critics should ‘look at the big picture’ and appreciate the Tories are still neck and neck in the polls after eight years in power.
Theresa May’s deputy David Lidington (pictured today on the Marr show) has pleaded with warring Tories to show each other ‘mutual respect’ today amid claims she is about to be ousted
David Lidington, the newly installed Cabinet Office minster and Mrs May’s de facto deputy appealed for calm today after a former Tory chairman demanded the PM set a departure date
Theresa May (pictured today in Maidenhead) has been told to set a departure date or face being removed from her post
The febrile atmosphere has been intensified by the need for the Government to set out its vision of an ‘end state’ for Brexit to EU negotiators within the next month – triggering open Cabinet battles between ‘soft’ Brexiteers such as Chancellor Philip Hammond and the hard Brexit camp led by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.
Mr Lidington told Marr: ‘I think what I say to all my colleagues is the Conservative family – left, right and centre, because we’re a broad church – needs to come together in a spirit of mutual respect, there are differences in any broad church, and look at what the bigger picture is showing.
‘The bigger picture is showing that after eight years in Government, we are still neck and neck with the Labour Party in the polls, we’re taking seats off them in places like Bolton in local government elections last week.
‘And the other thing my colleagues need to remember is look at last week’s news – unemployment, lowest level for 40 years… new borrowing figures lower than expected, new growth figures higher than expected.’
Last night, an ambitious Tory MP tipped as a future leader added his voice to the chorus of disapproval – warning unless improvements were made Jeremy Corbyn would win the next Election.
Plymouth MP Johnny Mercer told The Mail on Sunday: ‘We need to be doing better, or we will pay the price.’
Former Tory Party chairman Grant Shapps says that unless the Prime Minister announces a timetable for the end of her ‘uninspiring’ leadership, she could soon face a vote of no confidence
Former Tory chairman Grant Shapps today that several Tory MPs are this weekend sending letters to Sir Graham Brady, the Chairman of the party’s 1922 Committee, calling for a leadership contest.
If Sir Graham receives a total of 48 letters, he is obliged under party rules to spark that contest with a confidence vote.
Sir Graham has not revealed how many letters he has received, but senior sources believe that it was already ‘nudging 40’ before the latest batch went in this weekend.
At least three new MPs are thought to be writing to Sir Graham this weekend.
Mr Shapps has not yet sent a letter himself, because he says he feared that a leadership contest would destabilise the Government.
But friends say that after Mrs May’s reshuffle earlier this month – notable for Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s refusal to move jobs – Mr Shapps’ stance is shifting.