LISTEN: Ed Vaizey: Quite a few Tory MPs want Theresa May to quit
A former minister has revealed “quite a few” Tory MPs want Theresa May to resign in the wake of her chaotic conference speech.
Ed Vaizey, who lost his job as Culture minister when Mrs May took over, said he was finding it “increasingly difficult to see a way forward” for the Prime Minister.
He said he was “concerned” the party had failed to “reboot” at conference.
Mrs May’s speech, which the party had hoped would relaunch her premiership, was marred by an extraordinary series of events.
Firstly, a prankster made it to the front of the stage and was able to hand the Prime Minister a fake P45 form. He later told reporters that Boris Johnson had asked him to do it.
Her voice then repeatedly faltered during the speech, with Chancellor Philip Hammond handing his colleague cough sweet at one point.
And in a further blow, two of the letters fell off the 'Building A Country That Works For Everyone' backdrop behind her.
Mr Vaizey said this morning there will be “ quite a few people who will now be pretty firmly of the view that she should resign”.
He told BBC Oxford: “I think there will be quite a few people who will now be pretty firmly of the view that she should resign. I didn’t predict Brexit, I certainly didn’t predict the election result.
“One of the things I would say is that Tory party conference, people could say that’s an inward-looking, navel-gazing exercise where the Tory party talks to itself but the Tory party conference was a great opportunity to reboot the party and reboot the country to give a clear sense of direction and that didn’t happen so yes I am concerned.
When asked if he was one the MPs who believed MPs who believed Mrs May should resign, he said: “I’m finding it increasingly difficult to see a way forward and it worries me.”
His comments follow reports that 30 MPs are willing to put their names to a letter calling for Mrs May to go.
An unnamed Conservative MP told The Times: “Yesterday I thought she was two crises from the exit, now it’s just one… The question is now whether it’s kinder to all concerned to bring this to a head.”
Nick Timothy, Mrs May's former chief of staff, also weighed into the row, blaming the party's entire top team for a poor conference showing.
In an article for the Telegraph he writes: "This week was the opportunity for the Tories to reset and show the country not only that they understand the need for change, but that they have the policies to change people’s lives for the better.
“Unfortunately, they failed to take their opportunity.”
"This is partly down to bad luck, because the Prime Minister’s speech – if anybody hears it – contained a consistent argument.
"But where was the policy earlier in the week? Where was the plan to make our economy truly dynamic? What is the future for school reform? What should we expect from the review of higher education? What about the cost of living?”
However cabinet ministers - including Michael Gove, Amber Rudd and Boris Johnson - publicly backed Mrs May in the immediate aftermath of the excruciating episode.
Home Secretary Ms Rudd told PoliticsHome: "I thought it went well. Some good policy announcements, especially on housing."
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."