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  1. ITV Report

Theresa May to carry on with 'calm leadership' amid Grant Shapps oust plot

  • Video report by ITV News Political Correspondent Paul Brand

Theresa May has said she will carry on providing "calm leadership" at the head of the Government following the disclosure that some Tory MPs are urging her to stand down.

Speaking in her Maidenhead constituency, the Prime Minister said she had the "full support" of the Cabinet.

She told reporters: "Now what the country needs is calm leadership, and that's what I am providing with the full support of my Cabinet."

Her comments come as former Conservative party chairman Grant Shapps was named as the leader of a group of around 30 Tory MPs planning to send a delegation to Mrs May to tell her she must go.

He has accused the party whips of deliberately leaking his name to the newspaper in an attempt to "smoke out" the rebels.

Speaking to ITV's Good Morning Britain, he said the plan had been to approach Mrs May in private with a list of names to "save that embarrassment" of a formal leadership challenge.

Under party rules, 48 MPs would need to write to the party's backbench 1922 Committee expressing no confidence in Mrs May in order to trigger a leadership contest.

Those loyal to the Prime Minister said it was clear the rebels lacked the number of MPs they needed to force a contest.

Mr Shapps said he was yet to write to the committee himself but would now take the formal steps.

A member of the 1922 Committee, MP Mark Pritchard tweeted criticism of Mr Shapps' actions saying: "Attempts to drum up a delegation of 30 MPs to try and force the PM out - will fail. Also cowardly. If any MPs want her out - there is the 1922 process."

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Responding to Mr Pritchard's comments, Mr Shapps said: "I would say some people who are in public saying those things are in private saying something completely different."

He said the list of MP's includes five former Cabinet ministers, other former ministers as well as some backbenchers.

Regarding Mrs May's leadership, Mr Shapps said it is time to do something different: "We've given an opportunity to relaunch it, I don't think it's going to plan, I don't think the authority is there, that's why we're seeing the problems and divisions we're seeing within the Cabinet and therefore that's the reason why it's time to do something different and that means having an earlier leadership election."

During the interview Mr Shapps said the much-scrutinised conference address by Mrs May - during which she had a persistent cough, was not the catalyst to draw up the list of those who wish to oust the Prime Minister: "The vast majority of people who are on the list have been on the list for way before whatever happened in the speech".

Mr Shapps' discontent with Mrs May's premiership has been echoed by former cabinet member Ed Vaizey, who said he found it "increasingly difficult" to see a way forward under her leadership.

Prankster Simon Bodkin hands Mrs May a fake P45 form as she delivers her keynote speech. Credit: PA

Mr Vaizey, who was sacked by Mrs May when she became Prime Minister, 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.

"The Tory Party conference was a great opportunity to reboot the party and therefore reboot the country to give it a clear sense of direction, and that didn't happen.

"So yes, I am concerned. I am finding it increasingly difficult to see a way forward at the moment, and it worries me."

Senior ministers, meanwhile, continued to rally round Mrs May, with Environment Secretary Michael Gove saying the overwhelming majority of Conservative members and all of the MPs he had spoken to "very much want the Prime Minister to stay".

Speaking to ITV News Mr Gove said the Tory party recognises that Mrs May had shown "real grit and grace this week".

Mr Gove said: "They also recognise that just a few months ago 40 million people voted for her, more than have voted for any Conservative leader since 1983".

"The public I believe - others may disagree - want us to get on with delivering change so that we can improve our NHS, change our housing market and also reform our energy market," he added.

Meanwhile, writing in The Times, Business minister Margot James hit out at those challenging Mrs May's leadership, saying they were "ex-ministers who are extremely embittered individuals who just want to get their own back on the fact they don't feel recognised".

During her speech at the party conference Mrs May's announcements included a £2 billion to boost council home building and a new law to cap energy prices to help voters "left behind" by an unbalanced economy.