Conservative MPs put Theresa May on notice as her leadership woes continue
Theresa May has effectively been put on notice after senior Conservative MPs warned she may only have a few more months as Prime Minister.
Former Cabinet ministers John Whittingdale and Nicky Morgan both said that the issue of her leadership could come to a head before the end of the year.
Their comments came amid mounting discontent among Tory MPs at the Government's direction under Mrs May.
PoliticsHome revealed last week how the Prime Minister's future was being openly discussed at Westminster, and that she could be challenged if her party suffers a bad night in May's local elections.
It was also reported that Graham Brady, chairman of the Tory backbench 1922 committee, had nearly received the 48 letters from MPs needed to trigger a vote of no confidence in the party leader.
Deep splits over Brexit are adding to the fractious mood among Conservatives, and Mr Whittingdale - who was sacked as Culture Secretary by Mrs May when she entered Number 10 in 2016 - said the end of the negotiations with Brussels could be the time to find a new leader.
He told LBC: "At the moment I don't think it is appropriate to have a leadership election ... give her the opportunity to negotiate the best deal, we can then address issues of leadership."
Asked about Mrs May's position, Ms Morgan, who was also sacked as Education Secretary by the Prime Minister, told the same radio station: "I think the time for all this has passed. We might revert to it in some months or years' time, about who is going to lead the Conservative party."
Earlier, Conservative rising star Johnny Mercer also speculated that Mrs May's time in Downing Street might be coming to an end.
He said: "I am of the view that any sort of change of leadership is not helpful at the moment and I don’t support that.
"But I do think the window is closing because politics can be quite a brutal game."
But a spokesman for the Prime Minister produced a list of the Government's achievements as proof that her leadership was not running out of steam.
He said: "There is the work we are doing on Brexit and grasping the many opportunities that Brexit provides; there are those steps that the Prime Minister is taking to ensure that more people are able to get that foot on the housing ladder, and in terms of concrete action in that area you can see more homes being built last year than for a significant number of years beforehand, and also the fact that more than 16,000 people didn't have to pay stamp duty.
"You can see action that the Prime Minister and her ministers are taking in relation to the environment, setting out a 25-year plan to reduce the use of plastics and create cleaner air. You can see the action being taken in schools, where standards are increasing and more than a million more children are being taught in better schools than when the Government came to power.
"You can look at the extra funding the Prime Minister is getting into the NHS via the Chancellor's Budget. The Government is making progress in areas that are important to the public."