IDS: Tories calling for May to quit should ‘quieten down’ or risk plunging UK into ‘crisis’
A former Tory leader has issued a stern warning to his colleagues seeking to oust Theresa May after a bruising night for the Conservatives at the general election.
As Conservative MP Anna Soubry broke cover to call on the Prime Minister to consider her position Iain Duncan Smith warned that holding a Tory leadership contest now would be a “catastrophe”.
He urged his fellow Tories not to start “playing silly little games” by calling for Mrs May’s head after losing the Conservative's overall majority in the Commons, claiming it would “plunge the UK into crisis”.
Downing Street sources insisted the Tory boss was going nowhere and was now focused on trying to form a government, as her party are set to finish 14 seats shy of their 2015 result with 316 seats.
After the shock exit poll was released predicting a hung parliament former chancellor George Osborne said Mrs May would not "survive" if the forecast came to fruition.
Later Ms Soubry went after the Tories' "dreadful" campaign strategy and "appalling" messaging, before calling on her party leader to consider her position.
But speaking to the Today programme, Mr Duncan Smith cautioned his fellow Tory MPs against seeking to oust Mrs May in the aftermath of the election, insisting she has to stay in place heading into the Brexit talks.
“I think the idea of a leadership election suddenly now would be a catastrophe,” he said.
“And I think I just say to a few of my colleagues they need to be very careful what they wish for, because if they suddenly go playing silly games and manoeuvring and trying to create some kind of leadership process, then they will basically plunge the UK into crisis...
“People all start playing little games to begin with until the big game strikes them in the face. The big game here is Jeremy Corbyn and a Labour government under that manifesto and there’s not a single Conservative, not a single elected Conservative in Scotland or England or Wales that wants to see that implemented or Jeremy Corbyn in charge.”
He added: “Conservatives have to just quieten down I think and simply come to the recognition that there is but one purpose which is to find a way to form that government and to support our Conservative colleagues as we try to do that.”
Earlier Ms Soubry attacked the Tory manifesto pledges to take away free school meals and make the elderly sell their homes to pay for their social care.
She said: "All the way along those sorts of messaging were appalling. And then of course the change of heart on social care, I’m afraid, deeply flawed Theresa May.
“It did not make her look the strong and stable Prime Minister and leader that she had said that she was. That was very difficult and very serious blow, I think in terms of her own credibility.”
She added: “It’s bad. It is a matter for her… she’s in a very difficult place. She’s a remarkable, she’s a very talented woman and she doesn’t shy from difficult decisions but she now has to obviously consider her position. We haven’t had all the results, so we need to see where we are. But Theresa did put her mark on this campaign, she takes responsibility - she always does and she I know she will.
“The running of the campaign as well, it was a tightly knit group and it was her group that ran this campaign.”