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Should Tory MPs beg May to go or stay?

If Tory MPs were behaving in a rational way, they would probably beg May to stay Credit: PA

A minister has just told me that in Downing Street this morning he and colleagues were forced to swear the equivalent of a blood oath that they would cease to leak to the media - which, as you will have spotted, he seems to have broken by speaking to me.

Therein lies the Tory Party's biggest problem at the moment: after the calamitous election she decided to call, her MPs and ministers neither feel a duty of loyalty to her, nor are scared of her (now if only there existed a couple of Kray-like minders who could help her out).

So we are either entertained or horrified - depending on our allegiances - by a spectacle of a civil war in the government over the two most important issues of the moment, namely how to leave the EU, and whether and how to end austerity.

Divisions between Conservative MPs on a choice between hard and soft Brexit, and between stricter or looser deficit reduction, are both visceral and theological.

Stark divisions between Conservative MPs on Brexit have become evident Credit: PA

And by the way, today's announcement by the education secretary of additional money for schools, to protect per-pupil funding, tells us the economic spat will continue - because all the additional money will come from savings to be made elsewhere in the education department's budget, rather than an increase in overall government funding for its activities.

In other words, the chancellor has not eased the department's funding limits. Austerity still rules.

Also, in bowing to pressure to ease the pain for schools, Justine Greening may be wreaking modest economic damage - in that she may be cutting the kind of capital spending which would bring benefits to productivity and growth.

What is to become of a Tory Party that has done what those of us of a certain footballing allegiance think of uncomfortably as "doing an Arsenal" - namely in the space of a record-breaking three months tumbling from perceived invincibility to actual and humiliating near-capitulation?

Well Tories need to do one big and very difficult thing - which is to reconnect with voters under 55, and especially those under 35, who have switched to Labour in their legions.

Tories need to reconnect with the legions of young voters how have turned to Labour Credit: PA

Theresa May is showing no sign of having a plan for that - but then nor do any of her senior colleagues and rivals.

In other words, if Tory MPs and members were behaving in a rational way, they would probably beg May to stay till they have the hint of a rehabilitation plan and the shadow of a leader able to execute that plan.

But once MPs get a taste for self-immolation, they rarely succumb to reason.

Which may mean that unless and until she goes, the Conservatives will find it impossible to agree on what they are for, in this era of spectacular uncertainties.

And the party's electoral prospects would deteriorate yet more.

So although few MPs will admit they want another leadership contest in September, again I find none who are certain she won't be gone in the autumn.