Cabinet minister David Lidington blames 'too much prosecco' for speculation about Theresa May's future
Speculation among Tory MPs about Theresa May’s future is a result of “too much sun and too much warm prosecco”, a senior Cabinet minister has said.
Mrs May’s position has been under pressure since the general election losses, and today’s newspapers feature a number of reports about Conservatives considering how to force her out.
The Mail on Sunday and Sunday Times both carried reports about allies of Brexit Secretary David Davis – one of the frontrunners to take over the top job – pressing for a change in leadership.
But David Lidington, the Justice Secretary, said the stories were caused by MPs going to “rather too many summer parties for their own good”.
“The summer parties is the key to this,” he told the Andrew Marr Show.
“I’ve been in parliament 25 years and almost every July a combination of too much sun and too much warm prosecco leads to gossipy stories in the media.
“But the key thing is the public’s had an election, I think they want politicians to go away and deal with the real problems people in this country are facing.”
Mr Davis has previously described leadership speculation as “self-indulgent”, while other potential contenders to replace Mrs May have given her their backing.
But the Mail on Sunday reported this morning that Andrew Mitchell, the former chief whip and a close ally of Mr Davis, told Tory backbenchers at a dinner recently that the Prime Minister was “dead in the water”.
“He said she was weak, had lost her authority, couldn’t go on and we needed a new leader. Some of us were very surprised and disagreed with him,” a Tory MP told the newspaper.
Mr Mitchell described the Mail on Sunday’s report as “overheated”.
Elsewhere, Tory backbencher Nicholas Soames has described as “grossly irresponsible” claims that some pro-Brexit backbenchers would be willing to risk Jeremy Corbyn becoming Prime Minister in order to secure a change in leadership.
One Brexiteer told the Mail on Sunday: “If replacing Mrs May safeguards Brexit and risks Corbyn getting in to No 10, it’s not as bad as losing Brexit. A brief dose of a Left-wing Government is not the end of the world. In the 1970s it spawned our greatest PM, Margaret Thatcher.”
Mr Soames responded: “It is grossly irresponsible talk by people who regard ideological purity as more important than the national interest.
“Most Conservative MPs and party members are determined to rally behind Mrs May. Any Tory who thinks electing a proto-Marxist Government is better than losing a hard Brexit is barmy.”
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