Cabinet ministers rally round Theresa May as Boris Johnson plotters circle

Posted On: 
5th October 2017

Cabinet ministers have contacted Downing Street to urge Theresa May not to resign in the wake of her disastrous Tory conference speech.

Theresa May endured a nightmare on the conference stage.
Credit: 
PA Images

The Prime Minister suffered a string of mishaps during the key address - including a prolonged coughing fit and a prankster handing her a mock P45 on stage.

Senior ministers - including Michael Gove, Amber Rudd and Boris Johnson - publicly backed Mrs May in the immediate aftermath of the excruciating episode.

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Home Secretary Ms Rudd told PoliticsHome: "I thought it went well. Some good policy announcements, especially on housing."

However, MPs supportive of the Foreign Secretary were also contacting their colleagues to gauge support for a possible leadership challenge.

One MP told PoliticsHome that Mr Johnson's allies hoped to go to the Prime Minister with around 30 MPs calling on her to quit.

Downing Street sources confirmed that Cabinet ministers had been phoning Number 10 urging Mrs May not to stand down.

An insider told the BBC that "resignation is not an issue".

Former Cabinet minister John Redwood said: "I and many Conservative MPs like me are fully behind her and we are sorry for her that her voice went at the wrong moment.

"We don't think that tells us very much about what she is going to do for the country which is what really matters. People feel, as I do, that it is a pity that her big day was spoilt by those two things.

"But we do not think it spoils the underlying message and the strong point she made to the party that it is our job to get on delivering a strong Brexit."

But the conference debacle has piled further pressure on the Prime Minister at a time when she is already facing intense criticism from some within her party for her performance in the job.

Mrs May tried to laugh off the disaster by tweeting a picture of her speech surrounded by cough sweets and cold remedies.