Tory MPs 'in despair'

David Cameron is under pressure to return to core Conservative values as the party's dismal showing in the Eastleigh by-election triggered a new bout of soul-searching in the Tory ranks.

Backbencher dismisses Cameron leadership challenge

Senior Tory backbencher Bernard Jenkin
Senior Tory backbencher Bernard Jenkin Credit: Chris Ison/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Senior Tory backbencher Bernard Jenkin has dismissed the idea that David Cameron could face a serious challenge to his leadership.

Speaking earlier to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, he said:

"It is for the birds.

"The idea that changing the leadership in the Conservative Party is another quick fix - we must avoid the idea there is some kind of silver bullet to get us out of the hole we are in."

"What this by-election shows is there is no such thing as the centre ground, there is no great pile of voters in the middle to be harvested cynically by politicians. What people are looking for are people to tell the truth,"

Tory MP Fabricant criticises 'muffled' party message

Conservative vice-chairman Michael Fabricant said the party's voice was "muffled" and unclear following the defeat in the Eastleigh by-election.

The MP took to Twitter to argue that the party needed to "simplify its message":

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#Eastleigh The Conservative voice is muffled and not crisp. It does not clearly project Conservative core policies or principles.

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#Eastleigh The Cons Party must now co-ordinate & simplify its message without policy distractions away from core principles. 26 months

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#Eastleigh Everyone from the PM downwards must focus on the economy, immigration, crime, Europe and not allow other side policies distract

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Tory backbencher: 'Voters feel hurt and left out'

Speaking on Radio 4's The World at One, Conservative backbencher Eleanor Laing spoke of "despair" among MPs in the party.

She said: "I'm afraid that there is a very large number of Members of Parliament on the Conservative benches now who come back from their constituencies every weekend in despair about the number of people who are resigning from the Party."

Asked what she thought Conservative voters were feeling, she said: "They feel hurt and they feel left out. They're told that they're old-fashioned and they think that they don't matter and that what they stand for, and what they believe in, doesn't matter.

"Those people who for decades have put their faith in the Conservative Party."

Read more: Deputy Political Editor Chris Ship: Tory backbenchers' reaction to Eastleigh will be critical

Tory backbencher talks of 'despair' and 'disquiet' in party

The editor of Radio 4's World at One has tweeted Conservative backbencher Eleanor Laing has spoken on the programme of her colleagues' "despair" and "disquiet".

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Coming up on #wato, Eleanor Laing tells @beckmilligan there's "disquiet" amongst her fellow Tory MPs (1/2)

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(2/2) and many Conservative MPs are "in despair" at the number of people resigning from the party. #wato

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And this is an audioboo of @beckmilligan's interview with Conservative MP Eleanor Laing from #wato @bbcradio4. http://t.co/lAK4O68BYl

Read more: Deputy Political Editor Chris Ship: Tory backbenchers' reaction to Eastleigh will be critical