Andrew Mitchell has played down reports that he claimed Prime Minister Theresa May is "dead in the water" after it emerged that he allegedly made comments suggesting she had "lost her authority".
The former chief whip reportedly speculated on whether the PM had become "weak" during a private dinner last month on the day that Mrs May struck a deal with the DUP to prop up her minority administration in Parliament.
A fellow Tory MP who was at the dinner told the Mail on Sunday: "Mr Mitchell effectively said she 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."
Addressing the allegations Mr Mitchell said: "This is an overheated report of a private dinner conversation."
The PM agreed a deal with the Democratic Unionist Party last month with an official deal signed at Downing Street on July 26 where the party pledged to support a minority Conservative government after several weeks of post-election negotiations.
At the time the prime minister hailed the power pact deal as a "very, very good one" and insisted her party shares "many values" with the Northern Irish MPs.