Sunak is speaking to the country but he needs Tories to stop discussing a future without him

Many Tory MPs at the Conservative Party Conference believe time could be running out for Rishi Sunak. Credit: PA

Last night, in the bars at Conservative Party Conference, allies of Suella Braverman were absolutely delighted with the headlines in this morning's newspapers.

One took out his phone, and beamed at the Daily Mail front page - that described her speech as "spellbinding" and "dramatically assured".

If there was one thing that Ms Braverman had definitely achieved it was to get her party talking about her. The delivery of her speech suggested she had raised her game - and some of her supporters were explicit about her ultimate ambitions.

"You've seen the future today," said one on the right of the party - while some on the liberal wing claimed she'd never have the support of enough MPs.

It's worth saying that nothing in her words were explicitly disloyal to the PM (she praised him repeatedly) and there was no pushback from Downing Street.

When I asked about the choice of language critics call inflammatory, one person said "some people obsess about the language because they don't want to face up to the substance".

They said the PM would be talking about mass migration this week - including with European counterparts.

But, that said, everyone agreed that Ms Braverman has an eye on future leadership. In a party for the right wing Commonsense group- she was met by a packed room chanting "Braverman... Braverman".

In other parties - with MPs from all sides of the Conservatives - there was a different take.

"She won't get more than 15 MPs," said one. They insisted Rishi Sunak has a chance in the next election - with several MPs claiming his net zero shift had helped to squeeze the polling gap and lift the mood of conference. There was also lots of talk about Keir Starmer not being exciting enough.

But most of the conversations I had were with people with half a thought to a future outside government - and a number of Tory MPs say they still think that is most likely.

Even Cabinet ministers were discussing Ms Braverman's hopes and those of others. There's a consensus that the system will allow at least one candidate of the right through to a vote of members with lots of talk about Kemi Badenoch as well (and wild chat about Liz Truss too).

But more liberal MPs want their candidate up there too, with talk of Tom Tugendhat and Gillian Keegan though fears neither could win the membership.

One right wing MP suggested Penny Mordaunt might have a better chance in the future to persuade both sides.

When Mr Sunak speaks today he wants to persuade the country to see him as the future candidate for the Tories- but he needs to get his colleagues to stop talking about a possible successor too.