Boris Johnson urges Tories on WhatsApp: 'Get behind Theresa May'

7 October 2017, 13:33

Boris Johnson has called on Conservative MPs to move on from "malarkey" surrounding Theresa May's position and "get behind the PM".

In a message on a Tory WhatsApp group, the Foreign Secretary urged Conservative colleagues to turn their fire on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn instead.

He wrote: "We have just had an election and people are fed up with this malarkey.

"Get behind the PM. Ordinary punters I have spoken to thought her speech was good and anyone can have a cold."

He told Tories to "circle the wagons, turn the fire on Corbyn and talk about nothing except our great policies and what we can do for the country".

Mr Johnson, Andrea Leadsom and Ruth Davidson have rallied around Mrs May following her difficult speech at the party conference.

Scottish Tory leader Ms Davidson, who has been tipped as a potential successor to Mrs May along with Mr Johnson, urged the party to "settle down".

She hit out at plotters, saying: "I really don't think that having a bit of a cold... when you are trying to make a speech changes the fundamentals of whether Theresa May is the right person to lead the country.

"I think there's an awful lot of people in our party that need to settle down."

Commons leader Ms Leadsom told former Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps - the apparent ringleader behind a plot to oust Mrs May - to "shut up".

She said: "I don't think that there's anything like 30 others and I think what Grant Shapps is doing is incredibly unhelpful.

"Like a lot of my colleagues have said today, he should shut up."

Mr Johnson's response came after he faced calls to be sacked for destabilisng the party following his intervention on Brexit and controversial remarks on Libya at a fringe event.

Mr Shapps, who claims to have the backing of about 30 MPs, including "one or two" Cabinet ministers, said demands for a leadership election were growing.

Tory MP Michael Fabricant dismissed Mr Shapps as "embittered", while colleague Vicky Ford said the Welwyn Hatfield MP was "completely out of touch".

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